It is difficult, if not impossible, to discuss Dickerson v. United States intelligently without discussing Miranda, whose constitutional status Dickerson reaffirmed (or, one might say, resuscitated). It is also difficult, if not impossible, to discuss the Dickerson case intelligently without discussing cases the Court has handed down in the five years since Dickerson was decided. The hard truth is that in those five years the reaffirmation of Miranda’s constitutional status has become less and less meaningful.

In this paper I want to focus on the Court’s characterization of statements elicited in violation of the Miranda warnings as not actually “coerced” or “compelled” but obtained merely in violation of Miranda’s “prophylactic rules.” This terminology has plagued the Miranda doctrine and puzzled and provoked many commentators since then-Justice Rehnquist utilized this label to describe and to diminish Miranda – and he was the first Justice ever to do so – thirty-one years ago


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Constitutional Law | Courts | Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure | Evidence | Public Law and Legal Theory

Date of this Version

June 2005