Voters to decide on two Ky. constitutional amendments

Updated: Oct. 12, 2020 at 11:49 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky voters will decide in November whether to add two amendments to the state constitution.

Amendment 1 is Marsy’s Law, and it would provide greater constitutional rights for crime victims in the state, while Amendment 2 deals with term limits for Commonwealth’s attorneys and district court judges, also requiring more experience for district judges.

“This is something we already said, more than 800,000 Kentuckians said yes, this what they wanted to see happen,” Dr. Emily Bonistall Postel said of Amendment 1.

Marsy’s Law was already passed in 2018, but the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned it, saying the wording on the ballot was too vague. Now it’s in front of voters again.

“Providing those rights at the constitutional level will ensure equal access to justice for victims of crime, ensuring that rights are implemented and upheld consistently is really, really critical,” Bonistall Postel said.

The amendment provides victims rights like the right to be present at trials and to be notified about the release of the accused.

The ALCU is among the critics of Marsy’s Law, saying it’s well-intentioned but misguided and that the language is still too vague, also saying it will affect the rights of the accused.

Bonistall Postel, a representative for Marsy’s Law, says the language is meant to be a foundation and it does not interfere with constitutional rights of due process.

“It says that it would provide equal rights and it would protect those rights for crime victims at the same level the highest level that we protect defendants' rights,” she explained.

The other decision on the ballot, doubling terms for district court judges from four to eight years, would also require eight years of being a licensed attorney instead of two years starting in 2022 to be a district judge. It also has the Commonwealth’s attorney serving eight-year terms rather than six-years starting in 2030.

Supporters say it’s better to have more experience required of district judges, but critics worry longer term lengths mean a longer period of time until voters can hold them accountable.

If passed, these amendments would become part of the state’s constitution as soon as the Board of Elections certifies them.

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