Victims silenced: 74% of PA voters approve victims’ rights initiative. Judges block BEFORE the vote

· November 7, 2019  
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Every discussion about criminal justice from both parties in this era is 100 percent focused on the criminals, not justice for victims of crime. With the Kochs controlling the “conservative” movement, the only way the silent super-majority of voters who want criminals deterred and punished can find a voice is through popular ballot initiatives. Now, the ACLU and the pro-criminal movement are pressing their favorite emergency button to close off all recourse for victims of crime – getting the courts to override the will of the people.

They are quietly dismantling criminal justice in America, even in deep red states, without much fanfare. At the federal level, what proponents billed as the biggest change to criminal justice in three decades was passed without any debate in the House, while members were gearing up for a government shutdown, like bank robbers in middle of the night. Yet, when this issue is unambiguously placed before the people for a protracted public debate, they always side with victims of crime. The perfect example is Marsy’s law.

Marsy’s law, a bill of rights for victims of crime, has passed overwhelmingly in 13 states, including in California. It simply codifies basic criminal justice laws and principles that, for the most part, have been on the books forever. Various versions of Marsy’s law include such principles as:

  • The victim has the right to be notified of all the relevant criminal proceedings or about the release of the accused on bail and to have his or her safety taken into account by the judge for decisions concerning release and parole.
  • The victim has the right to be heard and to provide a victim impact statement at various stages of disposition during the trial, sentencing, and parole.
  • The victim has the right to receive restitution from the criminal.
  • At the same time the victim has the right to be heard, he also has the right to remain silent and to refrain from speaking to the police or prosecutors.

Over the past 10 years, no version of Marsy’s law has passed with less than 60 percent support except for the one in California. In many states, it passed with 75-80 percent support. The most recent example is Pennsylvania.

You might not have heard this from the pro-criminal media, but on Tuesday, 74 percent of Pennsylvania voters agreed to enact a version of Marsy’s law, most of which is already codified in state statute, into Pennsylvania’s Constitution. Earlier this year, the sate Senate voted unanimously and the House voted 190-8 to place this initiative on the ballot.

But the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court last week pre-emptively “enjoined” the certification of the election results before the election took place! It’s not just that the ACLU sought to enjoin enforcement of the ballot initiative after it was slated to pass, it successfully got the court to order the secretary of state not to even certify the results of the election! That is how badly the pro-criminal lobby wants to stifle debate before it even begins. The opinion was written by Ellen Ceisler, a Democrat. The state’s supreme court upheld the preliminary injunction on Monday by a 4-3 vote, with all of the yes votes coming from Democrats. The two GOP judges and one Democrat judge dissented.

You are simply not allowed to even have your voice heard against the criminal lobby. I can attest that during the debate over the “First Step Act,” even “conservative” publications spiked columns questioning the prudence of the bill and the movement behind it. There is no issue that demonstrates the divide between the silent super-majority and the political and legal elites more than justice for victims. The average Democrat voter is to the right of the average elite “conservative” politico on this issue.

In the Pennsylvania case, the ACLU claimed that the ballot initiative compacts too many issues into one ballot question to pass muster with the state’s constitution.

The language of the ballot initiative reads: “Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to grant certain rights to crime victims, including to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity; considering their safety in bail proceedings; timely notice and opportunity to take part in public proceedings; reasonable protection from the accused; right to refuse discovery requests made by the accused; restitution and return of property; proceedings free from delay; and to be informed of these rights, so they can enforce them?”

There really is nothing revolutionary in this proposition, and most of it is already state law. You can rest assured that if similar language of a ballot question was approved for a “criminal justice reform” initiative, the courts wouldn’t suddenly become over-zealous sticklers for the “single-issue rule.” It’s quite ironic that criminals want the right to remain silent and to be informed of their rights, but don’t want to accord victims the same rights.

Courts have already taken a sledgehammer to Marsy’s law in Montana and Kentucky. But this is the first time it was enjoined before a single ballot was cast.

The gulf between the elites and voters on this issue shows a broader problem. Many of us are shocked and appalled watching how Great Britain still has not pulled out of the European Union over three years after voters chose Brexit in the most transparent and contentious democratic debate. What’s become clear in Western democracies in recent years is that we are run by a ruling elite that believes in de-civilization and is committed to silencing the people at all costs.

We see this every day in America with regard to immigration, social transformation, and criminal justice. The courts and bureaucracies flip our laws and Constitution upside-down to make victims of criminals and citizens of aliens. The few agenda items of theirs that can pass a legislature, they do so in an undemocratic way, as with the First Step Act. For how much longer will the voice of the law-abiding American taxpayer remain silent?

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Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.