Supreme Court Issues Ruling, Gutting Miranda Rights and Threatening the Fifth Amendment

The U.S. Supreme Court building at dusk on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Week by week we get new rulings from the Supreme Court. Everyone is waiting for one in specific, but the Supreme Court gets a lot cases and has to make a lot of rulings. One recent ruling that was released this week is a threat to our Constitutional freedoms.

In the case of Vega v. Tekoh, which involved the administration of Miranda rights, the Supreme Court decided that a suspect's words or comments might be used in court regardless of Miranda rights.

These are the case's relevant facts as background:

Terrence Tekoh, who worked as a patient transporter in a hospital was accused of sexual assault by a patient and hospital staff alerted the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department of the matter. Later, Deputy Carlos Vega went to the hospital to question Tekoh about the incident. Both of them have differing opinions on what transpired, but what is indisputable is that Vega never read Tekoh his Miranda rights when he was arrested.

Tekoh was ultimately found not guilty and in turn sued Vega for violating his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by taking his statement before advising him of his Miranda rights.

So, the gist of it is this: If a police officer arrests you and fails to give you your Miranda rights and they then turn around and use those statements that you said against you in a court of law, you can't sue the police officer for violating your Fifth Amendment.

Alito said in his ruling, “Miranda did not hold that a violation of the rules it established necessarily constitutes a Fifth Amendment violation, and it is difficult to see how it could have held otherwise. At no point in the opinion did the Court state that a violation of its new rules constituted a violation of the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination.”

He went on to clarify that “Miranda Court stated quite clearly that the Constitution did not itself require “adherence to any particular solution for the inherent compulsions of the interrogation process” and that its decision “in no way create[d] a constitutional straitjacket.”

Ultimately, Alito ruled, “Because a violation of Miranda is not itself a violation of the Fifth Amendment,” there is “no justification for expanding Miranda to confer a right to sue.”

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