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Voting their conscience: Saying no to Marsy's Law

April 21. 2018 3:51PM

The virtue of New Hampshire's citizen Legislature is that its members are largely immune from political pressure.

This independence was on display last week, as the House Judiciary and Criminal Justice committees voted 24-11 against Marsy's Law.

Despite an avalanche of lobbying money behind the push for a constitutional amendment on victims' rights, the $100-per-year lawmakers heeded the concerns of legal experts who warned that writing specific criminal justice procedures into the state constitution could lead to serious unintended consequences.

In response, Amanda Grady Sexton, state director of Marsy's Law for New Hampshire, accused committee members of ignoring crime victims. That's a shamefully low blow.

House members did not ignore the testimony they heard. They exercised their own, independent judgment on a complex question. That is their job.

Grady Sexton is trying to push Marsy's Law into the constitution by attacking anyone who dares to express skepticism. Such bad faith undermines an honest debate over the merits of the constitutional amendment.

New Hampshire can, and should, protect the dignity and privacy of crime victims without pasting language imported from California into our constitution.

As Rep. Paul Berch, D-Westmoreland, said in recommending against the amendment, "It should be a statute so we can fix problems as they arise."

We urge the full House to listen to the committees' recommendation. The House should assert its independence, and reject Marsy's Law.

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