LOUISVILLE -- Supporters of Marsy's Law, a measure to add constitutional rights for crime victims in Kentucky, are asking the state Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to strike down the law that was approved by the voters last year.
In a petition filed Wednesday, lawyers argued the court's unanimous decision last month was flawed because it -- for the first time -- requires the language of the entire constitutional amendment be placed on the ballot for voters rather than a simple summary of the amendment.
"It is not necessary to require the full text be placed on the ballot," the petition said, arguing the text is too long and the dense legal language would likely confuse voters.
It added that the Supreme Court ruling makes Kentucky "the only state in the union to require the full text of an amendment be placed on the ballot."
The Kentucky Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers had challenged the law, arguing the question put to voters was overly simplistic and didn't fully explain the scope of the law, which adds 10 new rights for crime victims to the state constitution.
The ballot question voters approved asked: "Are you in favor of providing constitutional rights to the victims of crime, including the right to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, and the right to be informed and have a voice in the judicial process?"
The Supreme Court agreed the question didn't fully explain the scope of the law but went further by ordering that in the future, the entire text of such constitutional amendments must be placed on the ballot.
Lawyers Sheryl Snyder and David Fleenor, in their petition asking the court to reconsider its ruling, said that would be impractical because the Marsy's Law amendment was more than a page long and some past amendments have been several pages of complicated legal language.
The court's ruling "threatens to enhance, rather than mitigate, voter confusion on ballot issues," their petition said.
It suggests instead the full text of any proposed amendment be posted at voting precincts.
It asks the court to allow them to make new arguments to that effect or to order Marsy's Law be placed on the 2020 ballot with the full text of the amendment available at each precinct.
The law is named after Marsalee "Marsy" Nicholas, a California college student who was stalked and killed in 1983 by a former boyfriend. Her brother, Dr. Henry Nicholas, the wealthy founder of the technology company Broadcom Corp., launched and financed a national campaign to enact victims' rights legislation.
Nicholas has spent at least $27 million on the cause nationwide to try to get a constitutional amendment adopted in every state. He spent $4.59 million last year in Kentucky, according to election finance records.
Ten states have passed the law.
The measure won overwhelming approval in Kentucky in 2018, with about 869,000 voters, or 63%, in favor of the amendment.
But enactment of the law was delayed when a judge ruled just three weeks before the Nov. 6 election that the state must hold off certifying the results until a higher court could decide whether the language put to the voters was too vague to fully describe the full impact of the law.
In October, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate said the question on the ballot did not explain the full impact of a measure.
The Supreme Court, in its ruling last month, upheld that finding.
Kenyon Meyer, a lawyer who represented the defense lawyers group, said he thought the Supreme Court reached the right decision.
"The court ruled unanimously in a very clear, well-thought out opinion," he said. "We think it's very unlikely the court will want to hear the case again."