High Court Continues To Limit Criminal Defendants’ Rights


The Supreme Court further limited the rights of criminal defendants in its therm that ended Monday, says the New York Times. Last term, the court narrowed earlier decisions barring the use of evidence obtained through police misconduct. This term, the court was focused on the Miranda rule, which requires the police to warn suspects in custody of their rights before interrogating them. In three decisions, the court allowed the police to vary the language of the warning, insist that suspects speak in order to protect their right to remain silent and resume questioning after suspects have invoked their rights.

“The court continues its march to restrict exclusionary rules,” said Stanford law Prof. Jeffrey Fisher. “The court is refusing to exclude what the court thinks is reliable evidence in criminal cases. None of the conservatives are unpredictable in any of these cases. They're leading the retreat.” Chief Justice John Roberts provided a sixth vote in a ruling that banned life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders, though on a narrower ground than the majority. The chief justice joined the court's four more liberal members – Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor – in Breyer's majority opinion affirming Congressional power to authorize the civil confinement of sex offenders.

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