Barbarians at the Gates? A Reply to the Critics of the Victims' Rights Amendment
65 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 1999
The next Amendment to our Constitution will likely be the Victims' Rights Amendment, which provides a bill of rights for victims of crime. As the amendment has moved closer to passage, its critics have raised various objections. This article responds to the critics, concluding that the Victims' Rights Amendment would properly recognize victims' compelling interests in the criminal justice process. Part I of the article reviews normative objections to the Amendment, concluding that the amendment will harm neither the legitimate interests of defendants nor prosecutors. For example, victims can be given the right to make "impact" statements at sentencing without harming the fairness of the process. Part II responds to those who have argued that the amendment is "unnecessary," explaining the undeniable practical problems that victims face in attempting to secure their rights without federal constitutional protection. Part III turns to structural objections to the amendment, explaining why the protection of the rights of victims to participate in the criminal justice process is an appropriate subject for a constitutional amendment.
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