Questioning the Relevance of Miranda in the Twenty-First Century

Miranda v. Arizona is the most well-known criminal justice decision – arguably the most well-known legal decision – in American history. Since it was decided in 1966, the Miranda decision has spawned voluminous newspaper coverage, political and legal debate, and academic commentary. The Miranda warnings themselves have become so well-known through the media of television that most people recognize them immediately. As Patrick Malone has pointed out, the Miranda decision has added its own lexicon of words and phrases to the American language. Perhaps with this understanding in mind, George Thomas recently suggested that the Miranda warnings are more well-known to school children than the Gettysburg address, foreshadowing the Supreme Court’s statement in Dickerson v. United States that “Miranda has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture.” But even this may be an understatement: beyond the borders of the United States, the Miranda warnings may be more well known than virtually any other feature of the American criminal justice system.