In defense of Miranda

November 07, 1999

Here is an edited excerpt of an editorial from the Boston Globe, which was published Wednesday.

The Supreme Court should back President Clinton's call to protect the Miranda rights of suspects. To some eyes, Miranda is an escape hatch for criminals.

But this spin ignores a distinguished history. In 1966 the Supreme Court, in Miranda vs. Arizona, pointed to case law that has repeatedly endorsed the right, embodied in the Fifth Amendment, of individuals not to incriminate themselves.

In 1968 Congress passed a law that muddied the issue. It said confessions were admissible if they were voluntary. This applied only to federal prosecutors and, tellingly, was never enforced by the Justice Department. But last February the dusty legal relic was revived. A federal appeals court in Virginia ruled that the 1968 law had indeed overturned Miranda in federal cases.

It is an outrageous proposition. The Supreme Court should act quickly on the newly filed Justice Department brief urging that the 1968 law be permanently muted.

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