The Supreme Court issued a decision today that prunes the rule it established in Miranda v. Arizona way back in 1966. The decision in Berghuis v. Thompkins holds that to invoke the right to remain silent such that the police must stop an interrogation, the suspect must say so expressly and unambiguously. And a waiver of rights may be inferred where the suspect received the warnings, understood his rights, and responded to questions anyway.
Kurt Scheidegger of the Crime and Consequences blog states, correctly in my view, that the Court’s ruling “moves the Constitution back in the direction of what it really says, that no person ‘shall be compelled to be a witness against himself in a criminal case,’ and away from artificial rules created by the Court.”
The vote was 5-4, with Justice Kennedy, who wrote the opinion, Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito forming the majority. Justice Sotomayor wrote the dissent. She criticized the majority for going further than needed to decide the case before it. Scheidegger finds that “it is kind of odd to make that criticism in a Miranda case, as Miranda itself is the exemplar of going further than necessary to decide the case.”
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