July 6, 2022

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‘You have to say the magic words.’ What the Supreme Court ruling on Miranda rights means for you

Supreme Court ruling on Miranda weakens civil rights, activists say

  • The 6-3 majority conservative decision concluded that failing to read someone their Miranda warning doesn’t allow law enforcement to be sued for violating someone’s civil rights.
  • The decision guts a major pathway for incentivizing police to provide a Miranda warning and ensuring their accountability.
  • People must explicitly and affirmatively tell police, “I want my lawyer and I want to remain silent,” and then stay silent, civil rights experts said.

The magic words beginning the Miranda warning that many know by heart – “you have the right to remain silent” – may be enshrined in Hollywood shows and films, but Thursday’s Supreme Court decision means its civil rights protections will be significantly reduced, legal experts told USA TODAY.

The 6-3 decision, with the court’s three liberal judges dissenting, in Vega v. Tekoh, essentially concluded that failing to “Mirandize” or give someone their Miranda warning, does not allow a person to sue law enforcement for a federal civil rights violation of the Fifth Amendment’s protection against compelled self-incrimination.