“You Have The Right To Remain Silent”

The strange story behind the most cited case in American history: THE MIRANDA DECISION

Suspect confesses, case closed. Confessions are frequently the best evidence of a crime and, more often than not, the deciding factor in a suspect’s eventual conviction.But what if the confession is coerced?Read more »

The Key To The Warren Report

Seen in its proper historical context—amid the height of the Cold War—the investigation into Kennedy’s assassination looks much more impressive and its shortcomings much more understandable

In September 1994, after doggedly repeating a white lie for forty-seven years, the Air Force finally admitted the truth about a mysterious 1947 crash in the New Mexico desert. The debris was not a weather balloon after all but wreckage from Project Mogul, a top-secret high-altitude balloon system for detecting the first Soviet nuclear blasts halfway across the globe. Read more »

1954

America looked good to a high school senior then, and that year looks wonderfully safe to us now, but it was a time of tumult for all that, and there were plenty of shadows along with the sunshine

It was a very good year. Certainly it was if you were seventeen. I was a senior in high school in 1954, a member of the class of January 1955, at Lincoln High School in Jersey City, New Jersey. They told us these were the best years of our lives, so we had better enjoy them. We all laughed at that, of course, but as I look back, they may have been right, particularly in September of 1954, when the first Thunderbird and the totally new 1955 Chevy V-8 lit up our limited horizons. Read more »

A Letter To Hon. Earl Warren, Chief Justice Of The United States (retired And Deceased)

Dear Chief: It is coming up on twenty-five years since, fresh out of law school, I reported for duty as your clerk on the Supreme Court. It would seem timely that, with a quarter-century of law practice under my belt, I report in—that I give you an accounting of the record since I finished my postgraduate education under your stewardship, that I reflect what, if anything, I’ve learned in the interim about the practice of law and its place as an astonishingly powerful institution in our society. Read more »

The Law And Potter Stewart: An Interview With Justice Potter Stewart

A quarter-century of judicial history, as seen—and made—by our only retired Supreme Court justice, a man whose allegiance to the Constitution often forced him to act against his personal preferences.

POTTER STEWART CAME TO the Supreme Court in 1958, appointed by President Eisenhower at the age of forty-three. The product of a prominent Ohio family long given to public service, he himself had served on the Cincinnati City Council and as a judge of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals.Read more »

With All Deliberate Speed

Behind-the-scenes records reveal how the Supreme Court reached its fateful desegregation decisions

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States destroyed the legal basis for racial segregation in public schools. As it almost had to be in a case that stirred elemental passions, the decision was unanimous. It was also, as Chief Justice Earl Warren had told the other justices ten days earlier it must be, “short, readable by the lay public, non-rhetorical, unemotional, and, above all, non-accusatory.” Read more »