Amend constitution ‘for the children’?
In November, we will be voting whether to change the Pennsylvania Constitution “for the children.”
Every time I see the government proposing something “for the children” I get nervous. The constitutional amendment, if approved, will remove the words “face to face” in describing the rights of defendants in court to confront the witnesses against them.
We are assured the “replacing words” really mean the same thing as the original words; however, it would now be possible for children to give closed-circuit testimony in the courts. If that is the case, surely some meaning will have been changed in the constitution.
Attorneys opposed to the change state that the door could possibly be opened to exceptions for other kinds of witnesses — old people, the handicapped, and who knows who else. If one is brought into court, perhaps unfairly, by overzealous policemen, by someone claiming sexual harassment, by an EPA official who won’t let someone cut down a tree, will the new rules apply?
Why did the writers of the Pennsylvania Constitution feel it so very important to have the words “face to face” as part of the constitution instead of making it a law that could be easily amended or changedâ¢ Perhaps we need to do more research before we do something so important as to change our Pennsylvania Constitution.
Changing the constitution is serious business. I suggest we all vote “no” and find another way “for the children.”