WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme court ruled Thursday that “Miranda rights” are not actually rights, but merely a method to avoid rights violations.
Hence, individuals who have not been given a Miranda advisement cannot sue law enforcement authorities under the federal civil rights statute, Law&Crime reported.
The Miranda advisement, which includes telling a suspect during a custodial setting they have a right to remain silent, derives from the landmark 1966 Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona.
However, in the case before the high court in 2022, Vega v. Tekoh, the justices ruled 6-3 Thursday that “Miranda rights” are not really “rights” at all. Rather, the justices held that the Miranda rule is merely a “prophylactic” means to avoiding rights violations. As a result, the victims of Miranda violations cannot sue their offenders under the federal civil rights statute.
“Miranda itself was clear on this point. Miranda did not hold that a violation of the rules it established necessarily constitute a Fifth Amendment violation, and it is difficult to see how it could have held otherwise,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the Court’s opinion, in which he extensively referenced the Miranda decision, Fox News reported.
“Instead, it claimed only that those rules were needed to safeguard that right during custodial interrogation,” he later added.
Various state and federal courts of jurisdiction will continue to rule on the admissibility of incriminating statements gained with or without the Miranda advisement. The Supreme Court was simply ruling that law enforcement personnel could not be sued for failing to be the conduit of information. This should not change how police apply Miranda, it should simply keep them out of civil court.
Justice Elena Kagan, in a dissenting opinion in which she was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, argued that Miranda did establish a constitutional rule that conferred a right, and that therefore failing to provide Miranda warnings violates that right.