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Y-Backers Ignore Real Effect of Marsy’s Fix: Reining Back Rights, Reducing Costs Caused by Marsy’s Law

California billionaire Henry T. Nicholas has a Twitter feed to promote Amendment W, Marsy’s Fix, in South Dakota. The Tweets pushing Amendment Y follow the same deceptive tack as the flyer I got in the mail a couple weeks ago, portraying Marsy’s Fix as a way to “ensure”, “preserve”, and “keep” rights that South Dakotans already have:

I’ve explained that Amendment Y actually weakens the crime victim rights Marsy’s Law scribbled into our constitution in 2016 in three ways: making many victim rights “opt-in” rather than automatic, making fewer people eligible for “victim” rights, and giving the state immunity from lawsuits for damages for violations of victim rights. Attorney General Marty Jackley identifies those same three weakenings in his official ballot explanation for Amendment Y:

The amendment narrows the definition of “victim”….

The amendment makes it clear that a victim must make an affirmative request to receive the benefits of several of the rights provided by Marsy’s Law….

The amendment also provides that a person may not file a lawsuit for money damages against the State, local governments, or their officers and employees, if the person’s rights under Marsy’s Law are violated [Attorney General Marty Jackley, official ballot explanation for Amendment Y, filed 2018.03.21].

Henry T. Nicholas’s marketing people aren’t talking about what Amendment Y actually does. They’re just recycling their emotional language and imagery from their campaigns to pass their flawed and expensive Marsy’s Law in the first place. It’s as if they don’t care what the policy actually says or how strong or extensive it really is, as long as Henry T. Nicholas gets to keep his sister Marsy’s name in our constitution and keep trying to scribble it into every other state’s constitution.

Bob Mercer recognizes the actual intent of Amendment Y to roll back some of the rights and reduce the costs of Marsy’s Law:

Among those asking the rights be reined back somewhat are county sheriffs and county prosecutors. They found the 2016 act difficult to administer and expensive [Bob Mercer, “Voters to Decide June 5 Whether to Roll Back Some Victim’s Rights,” Rapid City Journal, 2018.05.12].

Y-backers’ unwillingness to campaign honestly about the errors in their 2016 measure and the true nature of this amendment should be enough reasons to vote NO on Y: if you can’t tell the truth, you don’t deserve our vote. But Mercer asks the author of the official opponent statement to Amendment Y—o.k., me—about my other reasons for fighting Y:

[Heidelberger] described Amendment Y as “bad for our constitution and for South Dakotans’ rights.”

Heidelberger said he hasn’t heard any solid information about potential cost savings. He said he voted against Marsy’s Law in 2016 because it was redundant to the victim rights law first passed in 1991 and because he knew it would cause the “explosion” of costs.

“Finally, I voted no because it violates due process and the presumption of innocence, problems that Marsy’s Fix leaves unremedied,” Heidelberger said [Mercer, 2018.05.12].

The official proponents still can’t give a straight answer about the cost savings:

Among those supporting the changes June 5 are Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, Krista Heeren-Graber, of Sioux Falls, and Rep. Mickelson. Heeren-Graber is executive director for the South Dakota Network Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse. They jointly wrote the pro statement.

Thom, Heeren-Graber and Mickelson said there isn’t a collection point for counties’ higher expenses. They cited examples such as $206,500 for adding four people in Pennington County and legislative hearing testimony of at least $180,000 in Minnehaha County and nearly $200,000 in Lincoln County.

County governments are paying to automatically notify thousands of victims of misdemeanor offenses about their constitutional rights since the changes took effect. Counties can’t stop unless voters approve the opt-in, and then the savings won’t be known for six to 12 months [Mercer, 2018.05.12].

Henry T. Nicholas’s deceptiveness must be contagious: even alleged  legal scholar Mickelson can’t tell the truth about their amendment:

“What it does is give the victim and the victim’s family members the same ‘co-equal’ rights as the accused and convicted — nothing more, nothing less,” Mickelson said [Mercer, 2018.05.12].

Co-equal? Do defendants have to ask for the right to remain silent? Do defendants have to ask for a fair trial and for a jury consisting of their peers? Do defendants have to ask to be presumed innocent until proven guilty? Do convicts have to ask not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment? No, no, no, and no! There is no “co-equality” between the automatic rights of defendants and prisoners and the “opt-in” “rights” that Amendment Y would create.

No one on Amendment Y’s side is making sense. But at least some consultants and campaigners are making money.


  1. grudgenutz 2018-05-12 18:54

    “Co-equal” is not a word. Adding the “co” does nothing to change the meaning of “equal.”

    Same for “co-conspirator.” One can’t conspire with oneself, so “conspirator” already means whatever “co-conspirator” is supposed to mean.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-12 21:20

    Can’t talk about their amendment right, can’t use English right….

  3. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-12 21:23

    Richard Nixon was an unindicted “co-conspirator”, apparently the term worked back in the Watergate days.

  4. Chris S. 2018-05-13 08:48

    Grammatically, “co-conspirator” makes about as much sense as “pre-boarding” a plane. You can board the plane before you board it?

  5. mike fom iowa 2018-05-13 11:12

    Leave it be, Grudz. You subtract co from conspirator and you end up with nspirator which totally changes the meaning of what yer trying to say.

  6. mike fom iowa 2018-05-13 11:15

    I have never flown, but it is apparent some people choose to “board’ a plane and get settled in before official ‘boarding’ call happens.

    Asking a person if they ‘habit’ a place with another person is downright silly.

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