BOISE — A Senate panel has introduced a new version of a crime victims’ rights constitutional amendment, this time specifying that it can’t be interpreted as superseding someone’s gun rights.
The Senate Judiciary committee voted unanimously Wednesday to print a new version of “Marsy’s Law.” The measure will likely be referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee and get a hearing there next week, said sponsor Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa.
This is the third year the proposal, which would add additional protections for crime victims to the state Constitution such as the right to be notified of and heard at post-conviction proceedings, has been debated at the Capitol. Another version had passed the Senate earlier this month.
However, some on the right worried a line saying a crime victim has the right to “reasonable protection from the accused” could be used by judges to take guns away from people accused of crimes. The Idaho Second Amendment Alliance came out against the last proposal.
“Don’t fall for the gun grabbers’ latest scheme,” Parrish Miller wrote in a column on the right-wing website the Gem State Patriot. “Don’t give the ‘tough-on-crime’ politicians who use human suffering as currency to win elections another excuse to spend half a billion dollars on a new prison. Don’t be drawn in by the slick and well-financed campaign.”
While Lakey said he disagreed with that interpretation of what Marsy’s Law would do, he wanted to remove it as a potential source of disagreement.
“It’s not about that issue,” he said. “Let’s just take that issue off the table. We respect people’s right to bear arms, and this is never what this has been about.”
The new version removes the language about “reasonable protection from the accused.” It also adds a line saying it won’t be interpreted as superseding “an accused’s federal constitutional rights or the right to keep and bear arms under Section 11, Article I, of the Constitution of the state of Idaho, nor to afford a victim an independent right to be heard as a party during trial.”
Lakey said he views the previous “reasonable protection” line as being outside what he considers the core principles of Marsy’s Law — notice, presence, opportunity to be heard and standing.
“It removes any argument of a reasonable protection provision,” he said. “Let’s move forward with a discussion on those core principles.”
As a constitutional amendment, the measure would need to clear both houses of the Legislature by a two-thirds vote and then be approved by a majority of voters.
Marsy’s Law is the name for a California constitutional amendment enacted in 2008, named for a woman who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. A week later, the victim’s brother and mother, after visiting her grave, were confronted by the accused murderer in a grocery store; they hadn’t been notified that he’d been released on bail. That prompted the brother, Henry Nicholas, to form a foundation for victims rights and push for Marsy’s Law and similar provisions in other states.