MADISON, Wis. (WMDX) – The Wisconsin Supreme Court released a 6-1 opinion upholding Marsy’s Law Tuesday.
Marsy’s Law, which expands certain criminal victim’s rights, was passed by statewide referendum in 2020 and added to the state’s constitution.
Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington ruled in 2021 that the referendum question on the ballot didn’t explain the consequences of the amendment. Remington said that the amendment diminished the rights of defendants, which wasn’t described in the ballot question.
Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote the majority opinion, which stated that an explanation of the ballot question did not need to be included with the ballots.
“No explanation or summary is constitutionally commanded,” Hagedorn wrote. “A ballot question could violate [the constitution] only in the rare circumstance that the question is fundamentally counterfactual.”
Justice Ann Walsh Bradley dissented and wrote that the amendment reduces defendant’s rights without explaining that to voters.
“Shouldn’t the voters be informed that a constitutional amendment diminishes the rights of criminal defendants before voting on it?” Bradley said. “It is apparent that the amendment serves dual ‘purposes,’ both expanding the rights of victims and diminishing those of the accused.”
Marsy’s Law, among other things, permits victims of crimes to refuse depositions or interviews and evidence requests, Bradley said.
The court also overturned a 1993 appellate court ruling that allowed a judge to review the medical records of alleged criminal victims on behalf of the defendant, citing the adoption of Marsy’s Law and other victim’s rights laws that have been put in place since then. The ruling was 5-2 with Chief Justice Annette Ziegler and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley dissenting.