Of all the "blank check" amendments that will be on the ballot, the one that causes the most consternation among liberals is the so-called victims rights amendment. It sounds good, right? Why not extend special rights to crime victims? Who could be against that? In fact, a number of victims rights advocates have been criticizing the VOTE AGAINST campaign because, they argue, victims are special. I don't dispute that.
But what I do dispute are two issues the advocates won't respond to. First is enabling language, or should I say, the lack thereof. Here's what the amendment says:
"The victim or, if the victim is a minor, is legally incapacitated, or deceased, a family member, guardian, or legal custodian may assert the rights provided in this section."
So, let's say you're the estranged husband of a woman who had an abortion. Under this amendment you could assert rights on behalf of the victim (fetus) and then impose the requirements this ill-conceived scheme on the mother, the woman who had the abortion. As a "family member," you get to call the shots. You could even assert, on behalf of the victim, that the felony of murder took place. Victims rights advocates say that wouldn't happen. They say the amendment is all about Marsy's Law, not any of this other stuff. If you believe that, you need to have your head examined. There is no evidence that the legislature wouldn't use this foot in the door to create all sorts of challenges to abortion rights, and there's plenty of evidence that they would. The national Right to Life zealots are looking for any way and every way they can to further their agenda.
The second big issue is whether this topic should be handled by the amendment process. The answer is simple: it shouldn't. There is nothing about victims that doesn't apply to dozens of other classes of people whose rights are routinely ignored by government. Blacks, women, gays, handicapped. You pick a group other than white men, and I'll show you folks who don't have equal standing in courts, in law enforcement, and in government in general.
There's more. The cost of this amendment in North Carolina has been estimated at $10 million a year starting in 2020. And there are also concerns that the ACLU has expressed about other unintended consequences of the amendment.
I sympathize with those who advocate for victims rights. But from what I can see, they are being used by a devious legislature in pursuit of an extremist, right wing agenda. The advocates I know aren't willing to believe that such deception is happening. I think they are wrong.
If all of this sounds crazy, it is, but that's exactly what this amendment is all about.