My JOTWELL entry on prophylactic rules

July 15

My latest entry on JOTWELL is up. I discuss this article by John Stinneford and what it tells us about Miranda v. Arizona. Here is the beginning:

It is a rare achievement to write about a case in the constitutional law canon and tell us something we did not know. This is the achievement of John Stinneford’s recent article, The Illusory Eighth Amendment. Despite its title, the most interesting part of Stinneford’s article is actually an analysis and critique of the Supreme Court’s famous decision in Miranda v. Arizona.

For those who neither study criminal procedure nor watch police procedurals, Miranda held that in the absence of a provable superior alternative:

Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed.

Standard accounts treat Miranda as a “prophylactic” decision. According to this view, the Constitution directly prohibits the use of compelled confessions. But the Supreme Court concluded that the direct prohibition was too narrow, either because it was too difficult to enforce or because the error costs were asymmetric. The Court responded to the problem by intentionally creating a “prophylactic” rule that swept broader than the Constitution itself. This ensured that the underlying right was adequately protected.

Stinneford argues that Miranda did not actually create a prophylactic rule. …

You can read the whole thing here.

Will Baude is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School, where he teaches constitutional law and federal courts. His recent articles include Rethinking the Federal Eminent Domain Power, (Yale Law Journal, 2013), and Beyond DOMA: State Choice of Law in Federal Statutes, (Stanford Law Review, 2012).
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