Earlier this week, the Supreme Courtroom heard argument in Vega v. Tekoh. That case presents the query whether or not a plaintiff has a civil treatment in opposition to a police officer below 42 U.S.C. 1983 for acquiring a press release in violation of the Structure, when the assertion was later admitted at his trial. In Vega, the assertion was obtained from a suspect in custody with out having first given him his Miranda warnings. In different phrases, one pivotal query is whether or not or not Miranda warnings are required by the Structure, particularly the Fifth Modification.
An earlier case, Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428 (2000) appears to counsel that they’re. The truth is they aren’t, and for that purpose the police officer ought to win this case.
My good friend Prof. Orin Kerr at Berkeley takes the other view in his Volokh Conspiracy article here. However his evaluation — that the command to offer Miranda warnings is a “constitutional rule” — is misguided.
I’ll attempt to be temporary for as soon as. If you wish to discover out whether or not one thing is required by the textual content of the Structure, learn the textual content of the Structure. I’ve, and Miranda warnings aren’t there. They could have “constitutional footings,” no matter precisely which means (what does it imply?), however they aren’t necessities of the Fifth Modification because the Fifth Modification says completely nothing about them. That being the case, the officer within the Tekoh case could have violated one thing, however he didn’t violate the Structure. Accordingly, he’s not liable below Part 1983.
Dickerson and Dickerson groupies get so far as they do solely by taking part in sleight of hand with language. The phrase “constitutional rule” particularly is noxious, and intentionally so, as a result of it implies that no matter rule it’s speaking about (right here, the rule requiring the rendition of Miranda warnings to individuals in custody) is part of the Structure, however by no means truly makes the case that they’re. It is because the case can’t be made. On the well-known finish of the day, the Structure can’t be made to comprise phrases it doesn’t have just by judicial legerdemain.
In saying this, I’m hardly saying something new. That is the very heart of textualism; certainly, to my mind-set, it’s the middle of constancy to the Structure (versus, say, freelancing, of which Miranda is a number one instance).
I’d add that Chief Justice Rehnquist, the writer of the Dickerson majority, had sufficient of a conscience fastidiously to keep away from saying that Miranda warnings are “required by” or are “a part of” the Fifth Modification. The opinion comprises no such language. He as an alternative needed to go for the gauzy circumlocution about constitutional “footings.” That’s intelligent, I suppose, in the best way Rehnquist was intelligent, but it surely’s unsound constitutional interpretation, as Scalia mercilessly identified in his dissent.
Full disclosure: I had a hand in Dickerson, which I described in this earlier post.