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Commentary: North Dakota voters made a tragic mistake when they approved Marsy’s Law

Kathleen Wrigley, chair of the Marsy's Law for North Dakota ballot measure, announces Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, in Fargo the measure for the November 2016 ballot with the sooty of area victims' rights advocates. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Last year, after an intense campaign funded exclusively by California billionaire Henry Nicholas, North Dakota voters approved a sprawling amendment to the state constitution called Marsy’s Law.

It was billed as a “victim’s rights” bill, but critics (me among them) pointed out that the feel-good legislation would be hugely problematic in practice.

“The North Dakota Constitution should not be a hobby farm for an eccentric California billionaire,” state Supreme Court Justice Dale Sandstrom (since retired) told me last year. “Even for $2½ million dollars he should not be able to get the name of his deceased sister Marsy in the North Dakota Constitution, but under the measure he would,” he continued. “And I’m concerned that a lot of scarce legal resources will be consumed trying to figure out what the measure means and perhaps having to defend it in federal court.”

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