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High Court Loosens Rule On Questioning Suspects

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High Court Loosens Rule On Questioning Suspects

Law

High Court Loosens Rule On Questioning Suspects

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Unidentified Man: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you do say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

NINA TOTENBERG: George Washington law professor Stephen Saltzburg is the author of a leading text on criminal law.

STEPHEN SALTZBURG: It's a good rule. Although it's totally arbitrary and it's, you know, it's created out of whole cloth by a majority of the court, it provides very clear guidance to the police. It gives people a chance to be free from police coercion.

TOTENBERG: Stanford law Professor Jeffrey Fisher says the decision illustrates how the court has moved away from worrying about the coercion of suspects. A generation ago, he says, the court would likely have been closely divided on this question.

JEFFREY FISHER: And it just shows how far to the right constitutional jurisprudence has moved, at least in this field.

TOTENBERG: Both criminal law professors agree on one thing. As Saltzburg puts it...

SALTZBURG: The most surprising thing is that Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion, because he's constantly criticizing the court for making up rules. And this 14-day rule is a complete judicial creation. It comes out of nowhere.

TOTENBERG: Nina Totenberg, NPR News, Washington.

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