On May 1, Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-born American citizen, attempted to kill other, presumably American born, citizens with a homemade bomb in Times Square that, thankfully, failed to detonate. The scare’s aftermath brought up the issue of Miranda rights, and whether a man like Shahzad should have them read to him.
Most have agreed that since Shahzad is an American citizen, authorities have no choice but to read them to him. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) disagrees.
“If you’re affiliated with such an organization that’s been designated by the U.S. State Department [as a terrorist organization],” Lieberman says, “then you’re in jeopardy of losing your citizenship. And if for some reason they take that group off of their foreign terrorist organization list, then all that changes.”
Pardon me for not having that much faith in the federal government.
Regardless, the issue of Miranda rights, and who should get them, is once again being debated in America. But from whence do these rights come?
They certainly don’t come from the United States Constitution. In a through reading of the Constitution, one would find the right to remain silent (the Fifth Amendment) and the right to an attorney (the Sixth Amendment). Missing from this document is a mandate of the knowledge of this information.
Nay, the Miranda warnings that we’re all so accustomed to, thanks to being inundated with cop shows all our lives, come from the 1966 Supreme Court decision Miranda v. Arizona.
In this case, 23-year-old Ernesto Miranda was accused of raping and kidnapping a young girl, and was arrested by police. After two hours of relatively mild questioning, Miranda admitted to the crimes with a written admission of guilt, which was then used as evidence. Naturally, he was found guilty of these crimes.
Sounds like an open-and-shut case. The man admitted to the crime. Apparently, this was not so.
The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where the court, in a 5-4 decision, decided that the person in question must be advised of his rights using the all too familiar four-fold refrain that we hear so often today: You have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be used against you; you have the right to an attorney; if you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you.
This is judicial activism at its worst.
The judges in Miranda did not interpret the Constitution so much as they ripped it up and stomped on it.
Yes, we have all of these rights. Our federal government is not allowed to usurp them. But if you don’t know them, then the fault lies with you. It is your duty to know them, not the duty of the feds to explain them to you.
Why should law and order suffer the consequences of our own criminals’ stupidity?
Which brings us back to the case of Shahzad. No, he should not be read his Miranda rights—but then again, neither should any criminal. If he chooses not to talk, then he chooses not to talk. If he asks for an attorney, then he gets an attorney. But he need not be told that he can do this. That is for him to figure out.