100 Americans Making Constitutional History: A Biographical History presents 100 profiles of the key people behind some of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases. Edited by Melvin I. Urofsky, a respected constitutional historian, each 2,000-word profile delves into the social and political context behind landmark Court decisions. For example, while a case like Brown v. Board of Education is about an important idea—the equal protection of the law—at its heart it is the story of a little girl, Linda Brown, who wanted to go to a decent school near her home. The outcome is accessible and objective “stories” about the individuals—heroes and scoundrels—who fought their way to constitutional history.
The Man behind the Warnings
“You have the Right to Remain Silent”
Miranda v. Arizona
384 U.S. 436 (1966)
Ernesto Arturo Miranda gave his name to a well-known police procedure—the warning given to arrestees that they need not say anything to police if they do not wish to talk. Miranda was a small-time criminal with no involvement in politics or legal causes. He would have lived and died in obscurity if certain members of the Supreme Court had not been looking for a case to clarify the rights of persons under arrest. The American Civil [Page 140]Liberties Union took an interest in Miranda's case and helped file the appeal to overturn his 1963 convictions for kidnapping, rape, and robbery.
These convictions were based largely on signed confessions obtained ...