What is the Miranda v. Arizona dissenting opinion?


Quick Answer

The dissenting opinions in Miranda v. Arizona stated that the rights granted to suspects in the majority decision had no support in the U.S. Constitution or English common law. The dissenting justices felt the court was overreacting and were concerned that its decision would compromise the efficiency of interrogation in law enforcement.

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Full Answer

Miranda v. Arizona was one of four similar cases the U.S. Supreme Court addressed together in 1966 on the Fifth Amendment right of protection from self-incrimination. In each situation, defendants were interrogated by police or prosecuting attorneys in closed rooms without being advised of their rights. Although these procedures compelled the defendants to admit guilt, the question was whether the statements were admissible in court, as they had been made under duress without counsel.

In a controversial 5 to 4 ruling, the Supreme Court decided that under the Fifth Amendment, unless a prisoner was informed of his rights before questioning, the evidence obtained could not be used. The dissenting opinions, written by Justice Byron White and Justice John Marshall Harlan II, argued that there was no such provision against self-incrimination in the Fifth Amendment, the court was acting in a heavy-handed manner, and criminals would be returned to the streets due to the inability of law enforcement officials to act assertively.

The Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona prompted the police to formally institute the Miranda warning as part of the arrest procedure to ensure suspects understand their Constitutional rights when they are taken into custody.

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