Supreme Court: Fifth Amendment, Miranda Rights Do Not Protect Your Silence

The Supreme Court’s Fifth Amendment decision affecting our Miranda Rights essentially means we cannot merely keep our silence.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Fifth Amendment protects Americans against forced self-incrimination.

But the Supreme Court’s Fifth Amendment decision came as Congress is quietly scuttling various rights for anyone identified as, or linked to, terrorists. Still, Lois Lerner of the IRS scandal was allowed to plead the Fifth.

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling on Salinas v. Texas affects the Fifth Amendment and Miranda Rights because of the way a crime was solved. Genovevo Salinas was questioned by police without reading his Miranda Rights because they were expecting to “clear him as a suspect.” But when Salinas was asked whether his personal shotgun “would match the shells recovered at the scene of the murder” he went silent.

This silence was suspicious and led to the arrest and conviction of Salinas in court. Prosecutors even used this silence as evidence of guilt. Texas courts claimed that “pre-Miranda silence is not protected by the Constitution” and the Supreme Court agrees.


Justice Samuel Alito explained how the Supreme Court’s decision affects Fifth Amendment rights and Miranda Rights:

“[Salinas’] Fifth Amendment claim fails because he did not expressly invoke the privilege against self-incrimination in response to the officer’s question. It has long been settled that the privilege `generally is not self-executing’ and that a witness who desires its protection `must claim it.'”

Basically, the Supreme Court’s Fifth Amendment decisions say that simply hearing your rights is not enough. As an American citizen you have to specifically invoke your rights verbally in order to have the right to remain silent. Unless, of course, the police officer remembers to read off your Miranda Rights.

Do you agree with the Supreme Court’s decision on Fifth Amendment rights and Miranda Rights?