Berghuis v. Thompkins
, 560 U.S. ___
(2010) (docket 08-1470), is a decision by the United States Supreme Court
in which the Court considered the position of a suspect
who understands his or her right to remain silent
under Miranda v. Arizona
and is aware he or she has the right to remain silent, but does not explicitly invoke or waive the right. Anthony Kennedy (pictured)
wrote the opinion of the court. The Court held that unless and until the suspect actually stated that he was relying on that right, his subsequent voluntary statements could be used in court and police could continue to interact with (or question) him. The mere act of remaining silent was, on its own, insufficient to imply the suspect has invoked his or her rights. Furthermore, a voluntary reply even after lengthy silence could be construed as implying a waiver. The Court was split 5-4. The dissent, authored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor
, argued that Miranda
and other previous cases had required a claimed waiver of a constitutional right to be shown more strongly, especially in light of a lengthy interrogation with a possible "compelling influence" during which the accused had remained almost entirely silent for almost 3 hours prior to the self-incriminating statement. Responses from legal observers and the media were divided. Many considered Berghuis
a further erosion of Miranda
and were concerned it was "turning the clocks back" on safeguards developed in previous cases. Others saw the ruling as a sign of strength and a signal that the Court, under its own impetus, was willing to address known issues resulting from the view of terrorism as crime. The more common view was concern that vulnerable citizens could now be placed under pressure and, despite having an understanding of their rights, could be more easily coerced prejudicial to their interests.
1899, Supreme Court. From left to right: Justice Peckham, Justice Brewer, Justice Shiras, Justice Harlan, Chief Justice Fuller, Justice White, Justice Gray, Justice McKenna, Justice Brown.