Joe Biden Gets a HUGE Supreme Court Victory… Canceling Miranda’s Warnings?

The biggest winners in the Supreme Court today are the Hollywood screenwriters doing police procedurals because they no longer need to put “the right to remain silent” in the scripts. It’s cliché at this point. We don’t need to sideline the action for the protagonist to say “you have the right to stay… blah blah blah”. Just get the suspect in the back of a windowless van and have everyone sure Again!

But the second biggest winner has been the Biden administration throwing its shoulder in Vega vs Tekoh and it paid off!

Like a defendant with rights, the Biden administration could have remained silent. Instead, Merrick Garland and the Justice Department have stepped into the case to side with a sheriff who obtained a confession based on threats and intimidation while refusing to let the defendant speak to a lawyer. The defendant actually beat the rap despite the forced confession and sought to hold law enforcement accountable for flouting the Constitution. This is where the DOJ comes in.

Because the DOJ wasn’t happy with the possibility that this might be a narrowly tailored opinion…he wanted Miranda functionally removed from the constitutional record. They therefore asked the Court to limit Miranda to a rule of evidence that can never be redeemed other than the exclusion of a specific piece of evidence at trial.

The Court complied, stating that when the Miranda The Court said these warnings were required by the Fifth Amendment, they REALLY meant the warnings were suggestions on how cops could avoid violating the Fifth Amendment. And the Fifth Amendment can only be violated if all the unconstitutional stuff comes up at trial.

Which begs the question: why have warnings? If the only constitutional requirement is “not to use illegal tricks at trial”, then there is nothing factual in telling the suspect. The government can simply follow the rules itself.

Bringing us to Justice Kagan’s dissent where she explains that there may in fact be some evidence to suggest that the caveats were the constitutional rule itself:

Start by finding out if Miranda is “constitutionally guaranteed”. We know it is because the Court’s decision in Dickerson says so. Dickerson keeps telling us that Miranda is a “constitutional ruler.” 530 US, p. 444. This is a “constitutional decision” which sets out “’concrete constitutional guidelines’”. ID., p. 432, 435 (citing Miranda, 384 US, p. 442). Miranda “is based on the Constitution”; or it has a “constitutional basis”. 530 US, to 439, n. 3, 440. It is “of constitutional origin”; it has “constitutional foundations”. Id., at 439, n. 3, 440, n. 5. And – again – Miranda sets a “constitutional minimum”. 530 US, p. 442. Dickerson repeatedly refers to Miranda as a constitutional rule.

Most cases don’t make it to trial, so the Supreme Court just ruled that police have no obligation to abide by the Fifth Amendment until forced confessions make it to trial. Use it to leverage advocacy! No trip to court means no constitutional rules!

It is not that going to trial would bring much comfort to the accused since this Court is just as likely to rubber stamp a failure to exclude an unconstitutional confession as an irreversible error anyway.

But starting today, you have the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer… but the police have no obligation to respect these rights and you have no means of enforcing them. And if anyone thinks the police won’t redirect interrogation tactics to reflect that, that’s actually an insult to law enforcement.

So much for Peter Navarro’s claim that he should get away with it because the FBI Miranda the warnings were not read in the notes.

Earlier: ‘You have the right to remain silent – JUST KIDDING!’ Biden administration says

Head shotJoe Patrice is an editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email tips, questions or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe is also Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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