Teacher Answer Key
CLASSIFYING ARGUMENTS IN THE DICKERSON CASE
The following is a list of arguments in the Dickerson v. United States court case. Read through each argument and decide which side of the argument it supports.
You may find it helpful to refer to Handout #3: Miranda v. Arizona (1966) and Related Precedent Cases.
TEACHER NOTES: Some of these answers are debatable. Engage students in why they drew the conclusions they did to draw out their reasoning skills.
- Mark a "D" if the argument supports Dickerson's side -- that Miranda warnings should always be given to criminal suspects during custodial interrogation.
- Mark "US" if the argument supports overturning Miranda (and using the looser requirements of the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1968).
- Mark "Both" if the argument supports both sides.
- Mark "N" if the argument supports neither side.
- __D__ "Miranda was a 'constitutional decision' of the Supreme Court and such decisions cannot be overturned by a law passed by Congress."
- __U.S.___ When the justices wrote the Miranda decision, some of them specifically said that the Constitution did not require the warnings. The Court also said that it did not want to create a "constitutional straitjacket" and referred to the warnings as "procedural safeguards." Furthermore, the Court specifically invited Congress and the states "to develop their own safeguards for [protecting] the privilege." That is what Congress did when it wrote the 1968 law that "loosened" the safeguards of Miranda.
- __U.S.___ Congress has the power to overturn rules of evidence and procedure that are created by the judiciary when those rules are not specifically required in the Constitution. The rules required by the Miranda decision are not required by the Constitution.
- __D__ "Whether or not we would agree with Miranda's reasoning and its resulting rule, we were addressing the issue in the first instance, the principles of stare decisis weigh heavily against overturning it now. Even in constitutional cases, stare decisis carries such persuasive force that the Court has always required a departure from precedent to be supported by some special justification."
- __D__ "Miranda has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture."
- __D__ "Although Miranda invited legislative action to protect the constitutional right against coerced self-incrimination, it stated that any legislative alternative must be 'at least as effective in apprising accused persons of their right of silence and in assuring a continuous opportunity to exercise it.'"