SCOTUS Takes Aim at 5th Amendmentby Ryan W. McMaken, LRC Blog
Jun. 02, 2010
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The Supreme Court says that one can no longer simply remain silent to avoid incriminating one’s self. Now, one has to actually state that one wishes to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in order to stop a police interrogation. I have a hard time believing that the police cease an interrogation even if one does state he wishes to invoke his rights, but the new ruling by SCOTUS provides even more legal cover for the police who question endlessly in an effort to trick people into confessing.
This is a horrible precedent to say the least, and it will fall most heavily on the uneducated, the young, and the unintelligent. Will someone with an IQ of 80 know to specifically invoke his rights, even if he senses that he probably shouldn’t talk? We know for a fact that the police have extracted confessions from many retarded and near-retarded suspects who ended up in prison (or worse) and who were later exonerated by DNA evidence.The proper, moral standard that an actually free society would use is that one must expressly waive his rights, and not the other way around.
Who is behind this latest assault on natural rights? Naturally, it is the conservative wing of the Court. People like Scalia and Thomas and Alito can always be relied upon to side with the government in cases like this. Indeed, Scalia pretty clearly thinks that the state should be able to stop, question, detain, and search people anytime, anywhere.
The ACLU, one of the few voices against the police state these days, has a nice summary of the issues at hand.