Debate over the constitutional amendment voters passed this year has now turned into a lawsuit filed with the Montana Supreme Court.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, along with several county and attorney associations, filed a lawsuit today to block the constitutional change known as Marsy’s Law from taking immediate effect.
The constitutional initiative expands the legal rights of crime victims and broadens the definition of what a victim is.
Jim Taylor, ACLU’s legal director, says Montana law requires that changes to the constitution approved by ballot initiative go into effect in July of the following year. And he says officials need time to comply with these changes to the justice system:
"It’s just physically impossible to get procedures in place to comply with the law immediately," Taylor says.
This year’s voter information pamphlet stated that, if passed, Marsy’s Law would become effective immediately. But, the initiative itself did not include a specific date when it should take effect.
As the state Supreme Court is asked to resolve this issue, the Montana Board of Canvassers, which certifies state election results, will meet Monday to try and come to an agreement about when these victim rights should be included in the state’s constitution.