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C O U R S E 
Key Constitutional Concepts and Supreme Court Cases
Professor Kermit Roosevelt, III, University of Pennsylvania
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Fifth Amendment and the Miranda Warning
Notes taken on August 29, 2015 by Edward Tanguay
Ernesto Miranda didn't know he had a right to remain silent
Miranda was arrested based on circumstantial evidence linking him to a rape
circumstantial evidence
evidence that is not based on direct observation or physical evidence
the police interrogated him for two hours without telling him he didn't have to answer their questions
in the end, he confessed
this confession was used as evidence against him in court
he was convicted
his rights were violated
the Fifth Amendment says that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself
this means that the police can't force a confession out of you and then use it at your trial
in the 1960s, police didn't routinely video tape interrogations
a judge may be able to figure what a defendant had said or how long he had been interrogated, but it would be hard to figure out what his state of mind was
it would be hard to tell if a confession had been coerced
or if there was unduly psychological pressure on a suspect during interrogation
e.g. police say they know he did it and this is his one chance to tell his side of the story
if you tell someone he has a right to remain silent, if he talks afterwards, you can be pretty sure he is doing so voluntarily
the Miranda warning makes sure:
confessions aren't coerced
judges can tell they haven't been coerced
what the Miranda warning doesn't do:
it doesn't create the right to remain silent, the Fifth Amendment does that
it doesn't create the right to have a lawyer, that's in the sixth Amendment
Miranda requires police to tell you
if they don't, then they can't later use anything they say against you
Miranda's confession was excluded but he was convicted anyway
is Miranda a good decision?
in favor of Miranda
it is good for people to know their Constitutional rights
against Miranda
the exclusionary rule generally only protects the guilty and benefits the innocent only indirectly
in one sense, Miranda protects the guilty, as the innocent have nothing to hide
they don't lose anything by talking to police
but that's not necessarily true
people do make false confessions
this is something that doesn't happen with the Fourth Amendment
people don't manufacture false evidence and put it in their houses
so it does actually benefit people who might get pushed into a false confession at an emotional moment, etc.
the Miranda warnings themselves are not in the Constitution
where do judges get the power to require them?
Miranda is an example of the Supreme Court being quite aggressive in managing law enforcement
originally unpopular
some called for impeachment of Chief Justice Earl Warren
a response to that court's decision regarding race, e.g. Brown v Board of Education (1954)
Richard Nixon campaigned against Miranda
as President appointed justices that he thought would overrule it
over the years, it was narrowed down, exceptions were created
but the decision itself was never overturned
congress passed a law to overrule Miranda just as they did to overrule the Religious Freedom Restoration Act
to tell the court to forget the Miranda decision and just tell if the confession was voluntary
in 1999 the court ordered them to and then went to decide that the law was valid
Congress could overrule Miranda because Miranda wasn't based on the Constitution
Supreme Court reviewed this in a case called Dickerson
(2000), upheld the requirement that the Miranda warning be read to criminal suspects and struck down a federal statute that purported to overrule Miranda v. Arizona.
there were not five justices who would overrule Miranda, but might have been five who would go along with congress when it tried to change the rule
it turned out a resounding no: 7-2
Miranda doesn't create new rights
it just makes sure people know their rights
makes sure those rights are available to everyone
therefore it is based on equality
one of the themes of the Warren court
"Constitutional laws aren't just for white people, they aren't just for men, or just for the rich"
Miranda says: rights aren't just for those who know about them already