🚓 Are the Miranda Rights Wrong?
In another stunning reversal, the Supreme Court also ruled last week that police officers cannot be subject to civil liability for failing to warn an arrested suspect of their “right to remain silent” — also known as Miranda Rights — which protects suspects from self-incrimination and was established by the high court in 1966. The 6-3 ruling stated that federal civil rights law cannot be used against a police officer who fails to present a suspect with their Miranda Rights, even if any self-incriminating evidence is then used in court.
As CNN notes, Justice Alito stated that violating Miranda Rights “is not itself a violation of the Fifth Amendment,” and that “we see no justification for expanding Miranda to confer a right to sue.”
Meanwhile, Justice Kagan, in joining with Breyer and Sotomayor in the minority opinion, said the decision strips “individuals of the ability to seek a remedy for violations of the right recognized in Miranda.”
How does this decision affect digital Miranda Rights, if at all? This was the question Ars Technica posed back in 2016 (which now seems like an eternity ago), yet the issue has only gotten murkier, not more clear. Of course, when the Miranda case we settled, computers (let alone smartphones in every pocket) were not even fathomable. But, today, should a police officer arresting a suspect ask them for their phone's passcode, what should the suspect do? “You shouldn’t resist a police order, you should lodge your dissent, and you should ask and clarify that they’re asking you to do it,” Alex Abdo, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told Ars Technica at the time. “But you should comply — as a lawyer that’s the advice you’re going to have to give.”
In an era when police accountability is a major social issue, the Supreme Court ruling removed a central tool in that fight. Will a new case have to be brought before the high court to reinstate some sort of protection against self-incrimination?