Accused criminals’ rights still intact after Supreme Court’s latest Miranda ruling

Some commentators — and new Justice Sonia Sotomayor — worried this week that the U.S. Supreme Court is hacking away at Miranda rights that give accused criminals the rights to remain silent, to an attorney, etc.

At issue is a 2001 Michigan case in which a man accused of a Southfield murder said he intended to remain silent. Instead, police peppered him with questions for hours before he answered “yes” when an officer asked if he prayed for forgiveness.

Is this a different interpretation of the court’s 1966 Miranda ruling? Yes, but why the fuss?

Justices this week merely made clear that accused criminals must explicitly invoke their right not to talk. It’s the same as when someone under arrest asks to call a lawyer.

Sotomayor and some others suggest the new ruling is counterintuitive. They say people shouldn’t be forced to say they don’t want to talk.

Nonsense. You don’t want to answer questions from the police? Just say so. You still have that right.