The Washington Times - June 1, 2010, 01:24PM

Today the Supreme Court ruled that a suspect interrogated by law enforcement must explicitly assert their desire to remain silent in order to invoke that right. The dissenting opinion, written by Justice Sotomayor, began with the following statement:

The Court concludes today that a criminal suspectwaives his right to remain silent if, after sitting tacit anduncommunicative through nearly three hours of policeinterrogation, he utters a few one-word responses.TheCourt also concludes that a suspect who wishes to guardhis right to remain silent against such a finding of“waiver” must, counterintuitively, speak—and must do sowith sufficient precision to satisfy a clear-statement rulethat construes ambiguity in favor of the police.

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The opinion, based on the suspect implicating himself at the end of a three hour interrogation, concluded this:

A suspect who has received and understood the Miranda warnings, and has not invoked his Miranda rights, waives the right to remain silent by making anuncoerced statement to the police.Thompkins did notinvoke his right to remain silent and stop the questioning.

This new ruling appears to require a rewriting of the Miranda rights currently read to suspects, which stipulates: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” By the new ruling, silence is not tantamount to wishing to remain silent.

Here are a few ideas on how the new Miranda warning might look, courtesy the staff of The Washington Times:

The original Miranda warning -

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?

The original, with addenda -

You have the right to remain silent, but only after you have said out loud that you will be remaining silent. Anything you say - after, of course, you have said you will not be saying anything - can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand what are you allowed to say and when you are allowed to say it? You may answer - but only if all you are going to say is that you will not be saying anything else.

Or…

You have the right to do something, kind of the opposite of what I’m doing now. Not talking. No, not quiet — more like forever. Well, not forever. Wait until you can talk to a lawyer. First syllable’s like a monster, or the X-Men with the laser. Right! Second syllable is between Mardi Gras and Easter. Yes. Silent. You have the right to remain silent. Also, you have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?

Or…

You have the right to invoke the right to remain silent.

Or…

You don’t have the right to remain silent. You have to ask for it.

Read the court’s syllabus and both opinions here.