I’ve got a new piece at Real Clear Policy on the push to constitutionalize crime victims’ rights (“Marsy’s Law”). Excerpt:
Unfortunately, most versions of Marsy’s Law so far impinge on legitimate rights of criminal defendants, constitutionalize issues better left to resolution by judges or lawmakers, and create ongoing tension with the presumption of innocence. …
Interests of evenhanded justice counsel against letting patterns of conviction and punishment depend too much on whether the complainant in any particular case is angry, energetic, articulate, or for that matter present at all. The function of criminal prosecution cannot be to validate the victim’s suffering. It must instead be to ascertain the truth as best as possible and impartially carry out the legal consequences on the guilty.
In short, there are very good reasons why the Framers included in the Constitution and Bill of Rights many protections for criminal defendants, but relatively few for victims. We forget that wisdom at our peril.