Sen. Whitley Westerfield, R-Crofton, has again filed legislation to amend the Kentucky Constitution with a proposed amendment known as Marsy’s Law.
Westerfield has added a provision to this year’s proposed legislation that’s a clear attempt to play upon the unpopular and ill-advised pardons issued by former Gov. Bevin before he left office in December, and the fact that victims of those pardoned were not consulted or even notified by him or his office.
Certainly, the process of gubernatorial pardons needs to be addressed, as other bills do. But voters should not be distracted or confused. That’s not the primary issue in Westerfield’s attempt to get Marsy’s Law across the finish line.
The law is named for Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, a California woman who was stalked and killed in 1983 by her ex-boyfriend. Nicholas’ family members were later confronted by the accused murderer whom they were not told had been released on bail.
Westerfield in a Friday op-ed in the Courier Journal claims the Kentucky Supreme Court, which struck down previous passage of the law, “ignored more than a hundred years of established legal precedent.”
Actually, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the amendment, which passed on the 2018 ballot, was invalid because the ballot contained only a single question and didn’t adequate reflect all that voters should have known about the changes that would have been made in the constitution.
As the Courier Journal reported, the high court’s decision upheld an earlier ruling by Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate that “the ballot measure language was so vague and uninformative that the vote on it shouldn’t be certified, pending further review by higher courts.”
Wingate’s conclusion is an understatement if there ever was one.
Compare this single sentence which appeared on the November 2018 ballot: