President Clinton is considering a proposal for a constitutional amendment to protect the rights of crime victims, according to an administration official.
Political advisers are pushing the action as part of a strategy to take a strong stand on a traditionally Republican issue like crime - especially since GOP rival Bob Dole already has endorsed a victims' rights amendment.Dole criticized the president Thursday for embracing conservative themes. "I can hold up a sign for President Clinton that says, `Me, too,' " he said.
The proposal recommends the administration develop its own victims' rights amendment rather than simply support measures already introduced in Congress, said the official, insisting on anonymity.
Last month, Dole endorsed a constitutional amendment introduced in the Senate by Arizona Republican Jon Kyl and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein. A different version has been introduced in the House.
Dole, who cosponsored the Kyl-Feinstein amendment before resigning from the Senate, noted that at least 20 states already have constitutional amendments protecting victims' rights, adding: "Let's extend those rights to every crime victim in America."
Kyl said he was encouraged by the White House consideration. "I don't care if it's election year (politics)," Kyl told The Washington Post Thursday. "This should not be a partisan issue, so if the president has joined in, then that's great."
But Kyl added that he's worried if Clinton's version is so different "that in point of fact it isn't real support for our basic concept. Until I see what he's proposing, I can't say whether I'm genuinely pleased or not."
The Kyl-Feinstein amendment would extend constitutional protection to crime victims, ensuring they are notified of court proceedings, can object to plea bargains, can make their views known at sentencing hearings and are informed of any release or escape of offenders.