Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Barbara J. Hall, Chair

Second Advisor

Milton H. Snoeyenbos

Third Advisor

David S. Weberman

Abstract

One of the most famous opinions in American jurisprudence is that of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Miranda v. Arizona. 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The Court’s prophylactic rule in Miranda has been followed in both state and federal courts with little derogation for over thirty years. On February 8, 1999, in Dickerson v. United States. 166 F.3d 667, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ignored Miranda, turning instead to 18 U.S.C. § 3501, a relatively obscure federal statute enacted in 1968 in response to the Court’s decision in Miranda. The United State Supreme Court granted certiorari and heard oral arguments early in the summer of last year and on June 26, 2000, the Court reversed the opinion of the Fourth Circuit in Dickerson and reaffirmed Miranda and its progeny. There were many who felt the need for Miranda had passed; indeed, Congress enacted a legislative replacement just a few years after Miranda, and even today educators and politicians continue to criticize the opinion. The discussion in Dickerson focused on whether Miranda was a constitutional rule and thus, whether § 3501 of the United States Code was a proper exercise of Congress’ power. Had that argument been successful, § 3501 would have been validated and Miranda would have faded into quiet disuetude. But the argument failed. The Supreme Court rejcted § 3501 and reaffirmed Miranda and preserved all of its exceptions; exceptions created by the Court itself.

Thus Miranda is still the law today, despite its steady erosion by the judiciary over the decades and despite the early attempt by Congress to legislate an alternative.With the opinion in Dickerson, the Court has made it quite clear that Miranda will linger into the uncertain future. Acknowledging Miranda’s survival, this thesis will explore the relevant facts and opinions in some detail then submit an alternative to the unpleasant result reached when a defendant’s voluntary confession is suppressed due to a technical violation of the Court’s famous rule.

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