Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

Taking Miranda's Pulse

First Page



The Supreme Court decided five Miranda1 cases in 2003-2004, making this one of the most active fifteen-month periods for the law of self-incrimination since the controversial case was decided in 1966. In this Article, we consider three of those five cases-Chavez v. Martinez, Missouri v. Seibert and United States v. Patane-along with the blockbuster decision four years ago in Dickerson v. United States. in an attempt to decipher what, if anything, this remarkable level of activity teaches us about the direction of the Court's self-incrimination jurisprudence. In the end, while these cases, like those before them, may not entirely clarify where the Court is going, they do make it plainly clear where the Court is not yet willing to go. As unsatisfactory as this may be to the purists on both sides of the Miranda controversy, this most recent set of self-incrimination cases demonstrates that a solid majority of the Court, anchored by Justices O'Connor and Kennedy, is willing to keep the Miranda rule pretty much where it has been mired for almost forty years: with its head in a constitutional never-never land but its feet firmly planted in a majority of the Court's apparently unshakable view of the realities of police interrogation.