What could be wrong with enshrining victims’ rights in the Iowa Constitution? Well, actually, quite a lot.
The ACLU firmly believes that crime victims deserve justice. At the same time, we also oppose changing the Iowa Constitution to include victims’ rights.
The “Marsy’s Law” campaign is a national effort that seeks a specific list of constitutional rights for crime victims more expansive than the statutory rights afforded victims in every state. Victims’ rights, as articulated by the Marsy’s Law campaign, are not rights against the state, and they are certainly not restrictions on state power. Instead, they are primarily rights against the defendant, which presuppose the guilt of the accused before a verdict has ever been rendered. Such a law would undermine a bedrock principle of our legal system—the presumption of innocence.
That’s one reason such laws have also been opposed by organizations that often protect victims, such as the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.