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Marsy’s Law Get Passed in 6 U.S. States As A result Of The Midterm Elections

he six campaigns backing Marsy's Law this November all received the vast majority of their money either directly from Nicholas or from Marsy's Law for All

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Reporters gather at a news conference on the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights, also known as Marsy's Law for Illinois, in Springfield, Ill. VOA
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The official website of the campaign supporting Amendment 6 in Florida featured a white-and-purple layout, filled with endorsements from local politicians and filmed testimonials from crime victims, who say their personal tragedies could have been prevented by the proposed legislation. The website was identical to others supporting Amendment 4 in Georgia, Question 1 in Nevada, and State Question 794 in Oklahoma.

The campaigns all linked back to the website for Marsy’s Law for All, a nonprofit organization driving what it calls the victims’ rights movement. It recruits and funds local efforts to incorporate Marsy’s Law, a controversial set of protections for crime victims, into state constitutions.

Six states had Marsy’s Law amendments on their ballots Tuesday, all of which passed. Five of these states now will alter their constitutions to include proposed changes that critics say are overly broad and harmful.

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Rep. Lou Lang, Advocates Push Illinois Crime Victim Rights Constitutional Amendment. Flickr

Marsy’s Law encompasses a number of provisions based on the idea that victims should have equal rights to those of the accused in criminal proceedings. This includes requiring victims to be notified of proceedings involving their case and the release or escape of the accused; to be heard at plea or sentencing hearings; to obtain reasonable protection from the accused, and to be guaranteed a meaningful role in the criminal justice system.

Critics say the protections hamper the justice system through their vague wording, while undermining due process by pitting defendants’ rights, which are meant to protect defendants from the state, against those of victims. Notably, the American Civil Liberties Union opposes Marsy’s Law, calling it “poorly drafted” and “a threat to existing constitutional rights.”

Marsy’s Law for All national communications adviser Henry Goodwin told VOA News he had never heard a good example of a victim’s rights undermining a defendant’s rights.

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Dr. Henry Nicholas, left, leads a march with a photo of his sister Marsy Nicholas during the Orange County Victims’ Rights March and Rally in Santa Ana, Calif., April 26, 2013. Nicholas is chief architect of Marsy’s Law. VOA

“The justice system is very adept at balancing rights within the system,” Goodwin said. “You know, the victim’s rights which Marsy’s Law advocates are complementary to defendant’s rights. We’re not seeking to undermine or take anything away from defendants. It’s not a zero-sum game.”

Marsy’s Law for All was formed in 2009 by Dr. Henry Nicholas, a former Broadcom CEO recently estimated by Forbes to be worth more than $3 billion. Marsy’s Law is named for his sister Marsalee, who was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

Also Read: The Year of Women In U.S. Politics

After successfully spearheading a 2008 campaign to bring Marsy’s Law to California, Nicholas decided to form a national organization with the goal of bringing the amendments to all 50 states, and eventually the U.S. Constitution. Since then, Marsy’s Law amendments have passed in Illinois, the Dakotas and Ohio.

The movement, on a state and national level, is funded by Nicholas’ personal wealth. The six campaigns backing the Law this November all received the vast majority of their money either directly from Nicholas or from Marsy’s Law for All, which Goodwin confirmed to VOA News is entirely funded by Nicholas. In total, the six campaigns amassed a war chest of $60 million. Roughly $30 million was spent in Florida alone. (VOA)

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Facebook Cannot Regulate Itself: U.S. Lawmakers

Now we know that once they knew the truth, top @Facebook executives did everything they could to hide it from the public.

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Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., center, talks with Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., right, during a House Judiciary Committee meeting on Capitol Hill. VOA

Democratic U.S. Representative David Cicilline, expected to become the next chairman of House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, said on Wednesday that Facebook cannot be trusted to regulate itself and Congress should take action.

Cicilline, citing a report in the New York Times on Facebook’s efforts to deal with a series of crises, said on Twitter: “This staggering report makes clear that @Facebook executives will always put their massive profits ahead of the interests of their customers.”

“It is long past time for us to take action,” he said. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said a year ago that the company would put its “community” before profit, and it has doubled its staff focused on safety and security issues since then. Spending also has increased on developing automated tools to catch propaganda and material that violates the company’s posting policies.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy. VOA

Other initiatives have brought increased transparency about the administrators of pages and purchasers of ads on Facebook. Some critics, including lawmakers and users, still contend that Facebook’s bolstered systems and processes are prone to errors and that only laws will result in better performance. The New York Timessaid Zuckerberg and the company’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, ignored warning signs that the social media company could be “exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe.” And when the warning signs became evident, they “sought to conceal them from public view.”

“We’ve known for some time that @Facebook chose to turn a blind eye to the spread of hate speech and Russian propaganda on its platform,” said Cicilline, who will likely take the reins of the subcommittee on regulatory reform, commercial and antitrust law when the new, Democratic-controlled Congress is seated in January.

Also Read: Social Media Laws Should Be Tightened: Germany

“Now we know that once they knew the truth, top @Facebook executives did everything they could to hide it from the public by using a playbook of suppressing opposition and propagating conspiracy theories,” he said.

“Next January, Congress should get to work enacting new laws to hold concentrated economic power to account, address the corrupting influence of corporate money in our democracy, and restore the rights of Americans,” Cicilline said. (VOA)