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Montana just repealed Marsy’s Law. What does that mean for Ohio?

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The Montana Supreme Court justices struck down Marsy's Law in the state. Photo via Montana Supreme Court.

Ohio voters chose to approve Marsy’s Law earlier this month, but the Montana Supreme Court just struck it down. But that probably won’t mean much for Ohio.

The Montana Supreme Court struck down Marsy’s Law on Nov. 1 in a landmark lawsuit that established the amendment as unconstitutional, just days before Ohio voted to institute a similar law.

Ohio passed Issue 1, a version of Marsy’s Law, on election day last Tuesday with over 80 percent of the vote.

Issue 1 is intended to only repeal and replace Amendment 2 of Ohio’s Constitution, or Section 10a of Article 1, which was ratified in 1994.

Montana’s version of Marsy’s Law amended multiple sections of the state constitution. Under Article XIV, Section 11 of the constitution, each amendment to the Constitution must be voted on separately.

But the law’s amendments were were not voted on individually, and instead passed as one law. The court held that it violated the Section 11 and was unconstitutional.

Ohio’s Constitution does not limit amendments to the constitution in an election cycle.

Justice Laurie McKinnon delivered the opinion for the court.

“When voters were required to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for CI-116 in its entirety, they were forced to vote for or against multiple, not closely related, changes to the Montana Constitution with one vote,” McKinnon said.

The Legal Director of ACLU of Montana said in a press release that the Court’s ruling maintained the current principles of Montana’s Constitution.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling today is an important victory for Montana’s declaration of rights and vindicates the original principles of the state’s constitutional convention,”  Rate said.

“The Supreme Court ruled on the side of these constitutionally enshrined rights.”

Critics of Marsy’s Law argue current laws are sufficient. And Ohio state public defender, Timothy Young, said in an official argument against Issue 1 that the amendment gives victims the right to refuse to turn over evidence and conflicts with the Bill of Rights.

“Issue 1 conflicts with essential guarantees in the Bill of Rights, including double jeopardy, confrontation, and speedy trial – rights fundamental to our Founders,” Young said. “This amendment will result in increased litigation, increased costs to taxpayers, and will delay cases, only hurting victims. This amendment is wrong for Ohio.”

No lawsuits have currently been filed in Ohio against Marsy’s Law.

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