ACLU, ABC News, and Senator Leahy Wrong on Miranda
The ACLU takes the position that Miranda warnings to terrorists cannot be revised except by the Supreme Court. Senator Patrick Leahy is too stupid to notice that this is an error when applied to terrorists. The ABC interviewer is too ill prepared to catch Leahy’s error. And a false report goes out on the air.
The facts for this article, but not its legal conclusions, come from a report broadcast on ABC News on 16 May 2010, in which Jake Tapper interviewed Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, about Attorney General Eric Holder’s suggestion a week ago that the Miranda warning needed to be “relaxed” when applied to “terrorists.” Leahy’s position was the same as that of the ACLU, that the warnings were “created by the Supreme Court” and could not be changed by a mere “statute from Congress.”
In his position of Chairman of Judiciary, Senator Leahy ought to be aware of the major rulings of the Supreme Court on the subject of dealing with terrorists. If he doesn’t do the reading himself, he should certainly have able staff brief him so he will not make obvious mistakes in public. (The same caveat applies to Attorney General Holder, who has made more than a few public mistatements of the law from his own ignorance abetted by his staff.)
Here is the error made by General Holder and followed by Senator Leahy. The Supreme Court has ruled on the application of the Fifth Amendment—the Court-claimed basis of the Miranda warnings—to the trials of terrorists. The decision was unanimous. And the Court ruled that those charged and tried as terrorists are not entitled to the protections of the whole Bill of Rights. The case is Ex Parte Quirrin, 1942. And it applies to all tried as terrorists, even if they are American citizens.
It is a shame that the ABC reporter was so ill-prepared that he did not know the governing Supreme Court precedent. Could have been a ground-breaking interview. Instead it was another case of the blind leading the blind, being covered by the blind.