Changes To The Illinois Constitution On The Ballot
Yesterday, I received a pamphlet in the mail from the Illinois Secretary of State. It is addressed to “Residential Customer” and titled, “Proposed Amendments and Addition to The Illinois Constitution.” Of course, it captured my attention.
The introduction says,
“At the General Election to be held on the 4th of November, 2014, you will be called upon to adopt or reject the following proposed amendments to the Illinois Constitution. As required by law, I provide you with the following information.”
Wow! To be fully informed, I read the 6 pages.
There is one proposed Amendment, and an addition to Article III which is titled, “Suffrage and Elections.
After reading the proposed Amendment and addition, I read the sections of arguments against them. Then I went back and read the proposed Amendment and addition again. Then I laughed at the arguments and shook my head.
The proposed Amendment is Crime Victims’ Rights. The Amendment would grant additional rights to crime victim during the pendency of cases and give them a voice during plea agreements and sentencing.
The proposed Amendment would also give victims a right to formal notice and a hearing before the court rules on any request for access to their information which is privileged or confidential.
A statement in favor of the Amendment says that victims should be allowed to object when a defendant or a defendant’s attorney attempts to obtain information about the victim that is confidential or private, such as mental health records and personal journals. A judge will decide if the victim has to turn over what the defendant wants, but the amendment would allow victims to object if he or she feels that a privacy violation would result.
The arguments against the proposed amendment?
Please, make sure you’re sitting down before reading further.
The arguments against the amendment include that the amendment would disrupt the criminal justice process and impede the work of prosecutors. It alleges that victims and/or their attorneys might try to second-guess prosecutors and object to decisions made by judges.
Do you hear that? Prosecutors, who are elected by the people, are demigods who do not want crime victims second-guessing them.
The arguments against the amendment also include that our system gives criminal defendants the right to access information, documents and records that could prove their innocence and that the amendment would give victims opportunity to prevent disclosure of certain materials or documents that might prove the defendant’s innocence.
HA! Based on what we have experienced with defense attorneys obtaining victims’ materials and documents, they are used in an attempt to put victims on trial, and have absolutely no relevancy to the crime that defendants are accused of committing.
Although it was in Florida and not Illinois, we saw during George Zimmerman’s trial where his attorneys blasted out photos purportedly from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone, from a purportedly “hidden” file in the cell phone that was protected by an unknown password that only a person who disliked State’s Attorney Angela Corey was able to access.
The judge would not allow the photos into evidence. Did that stop Mark O’Mara from posting them on the internet? No. Did the photos prove Zimmerman’s innocence? No. The defense could not even verify that Trayvon had knowledge of the photos, and Zimmerman certainly didn’t see them before or during his pulling of the trigger that sent a hollow-point bullet through Trayvon’s heart. The photos, which under the circumstances of how they were obtained, were apparently intended to be confidential, and not being admissible in court as evidence, were still used by the defense for propaganda purposes.
In the State of Michigan in the Ted Wafer trial, we saw how his defense attorney wanted Renisha McBride’s Facebook to be entered into evidence. Why? To prove his innocence? He never testified that Renisha said a word to him. He did not testify that Renisha made any threatening move. His threat, so he said, was the knocking and banging on his door and window. Wafer knew nothing about Renisha’s personality; nothing about her thoughts, when he killed her. Her Facebook page had nothing to do with the crime that Wafer was charged with, and subsequently convicted of committing.
Illinois wants to protect victims from the humiliations intended to be inflicted on them in court, after they have already been harmed, or killed. I’m all for the proposed amendment because it gives crime victims the constitutional right to keep their privileged and confidential information from being accessed by defendants who can use them to denigrate, humiliate, cast rumors and taint jury pools.
The additional proposal is very short;
“No person shall be denied the right to register to vote or cast a ballot in an election based on race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or income.”
The proposal makes sure that all eligible Illinois citizens have a fundamental right to vote and that regulations seeking to prohibit eligible Illinois citizens from voting in an election should not be tolerated in a civil society.
The arguments against this? Hold on to your hat. Quote:
“This amendment is not necessary. Many of these protections are already provided by federal law. The proponents have not identified any instances of voter discrimination in Illinois that would justify the creation of a State cause of action. The proposed amendment will only serve to increase litigation.”
That is what is called circular reasoning. In a nutshell, the opposition says that people denied to register to vote due to discrimination, should go to the federal court rather than the state court because their voting protections are under federal law.
How often have we read about states, cities, and counties passing laws and ordinances that prevent people from registering to vote? Sure, the people can contact an organization, and the organization can rally their attorneys to file a cause of action in the federal court to argue the unconstitutionality of state voting rights. Then those same people who are in opposition belly ache about the federal government stepping on state rights. It would be good to put it in the state’s constitution.
I am voting for the proposed addition.
Now, I say it’s time for our legislature in the U.S. Congress to introduce amendments and additions to our U.S. Constitution to bring it into 21st century language, and the protect the rights of all citizens and future citizens. We don’t need to return to the Wild, Wild, West, and we don’t need local law enforcement using military tools on citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights. Maybe if local law enforcement spent more time learning how to communicate with all citizens, and less time training on the use of military weapons, more citizens would feel safer and not own arsenals.