Focus Point - The Supremes Strike OutCommentary by Pete du Pont
July 18, 2000
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Overshadowed by sexier decisions at the end of the supreme court session last month was a really bad one.
The court upheld the Miranda ruling, which says cops must follow court prescribed steps to warn a suspect of his rights in order to get a confession -- even though the constitution only forbids compelled, not voluntary confessions.
Because of a 1986 law, federal law enforcement officials have been exempt from Miranda. The current case was an appeal from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled since a bank robber made a confession, Miranda wasn't constitutionally required.
The Supremes -- astonishingly -- overruled 7-2, saying Miranda was a constitutional court decision and couldn't be overruled by an act of Congress.
They didn't declare the act of Congress unconstitutional -- too hard to do that -- they just put their own "legislation" above a constitutional act of Congress.
In his dissent, justice Scalia termed this an "Immense and frightening antidemocratic power".
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, feeling old?