The Supreme Court of the United States recently placed further limits on the Miranda decision by their 5-4 majority decision in the case of Berghuis v. Thompkins.
The decision puts to bed the advice that lawyers have given their clients since Miranda was decided in 1966 – that advice, of course, was “keep your mouth shut.”
The Supreme Court’s conservative majority continued the ever-expanding assault on the Miranda rights of a criminal suspect while being interrogated by the police. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, which held that suspects must break their silence and tell police they are going to remain quiet in order to stop an interrogation, just as they must tell police they want a lawyer.
Justices joining Kennedy were Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Chief Justice Roberts. Newly confirmed Justice Sonia Sotomayer wrote the dissent, stating that “the ruling turned Americans’ rights of protection upside down.”
I find myself in the position of agreeing with the Supreme Court’s liberal minority in opposing any further destruction of time-honored civil rights. The Bill of Rights is our foundation, and currently that foundation is under severe attack. It seems to me that we should defend it at all costs.
I especially liked Justice Sotomayer’s reasoning expressed in her dissent:
“Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent – which counterintuitively requires them to speak. At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so. Those results…are inconsistent with the fair-trial principles.”
Well said Justice Sotomayer, I completely agree. The majority opinion, in essence, is that to remain silent you must speak. This means that rights are not really ours unless we overtly claim them in the face of intense police questioning.
Imagine that you are a criminal defendant. And that could happen, you know. Yes, it could happen to any of us, and if it does, we will need Miranda protection. I point you to the MIAC report and other recent hit lists as evidence.
We can’t allow Miranda or the Bill of Rights to be further eroded. To do so is to empower the State at the expense of individuals. For at least the last 10 years and probably more, the State has been ascendant against the individual.
The Constitution Party, I believe, stands for the reversal of that trend and therefore no Constitutionalist should be happy with the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision.