The Supreme Court

Episode #4
Clip #3: The Dickerson Case

If one reads Miranda, it's not clear whether it comes out of the Constitution, or whether it's simply something which the Court has created as a Court-made remedy.

Rehnquist, throughout the '70s in his Lone Ranger days, was more than happy to say Miranda is not a constitutional decision. It should be reversed. So Dickerson comes to the Court, Miranda's gotta go, the logic would be.

I do think there's a special responsibility that comes with being the chief to look out for the institutional stability, security, and prerogatives of the Court. And I'd be surprised if Justice Rehnquist's view on a number of areas didn't change when he moved from as associate justice to being the chief justice. I suppose that perhaps the clearest example of that was his opinion in the Dickerson case.

Miranda stays by a vote of 7-2, and it stays with onetime critic William Rehnquist writing the majority opinion, in saying, not only is Miranda sound precedent, but Miranda is correct. The Constitution requires police to read criminal suspects their rights.

Maybe Miranda should be overturned, but if it's to be overturned it's gotta be us and not Congress. So actually, the opinion he writes is one about judicial supremacy, which is, "Congress has no business telling us what the Constitution should be interpreted to mean, and so this law can't do it."

Video Introduction Watch Video Download Transcript close