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Recent Case - United States v. Dickerson, 166 F.3d 667 (4th Cir. 1999)

8 Pages Posted: 14 May 2010  

Emily Chiang

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: May 13, 2000


In the more than three decades since the Supreme Court decided Miranda v. Arizona, its holding has been glorified and vilified by conservatives and liberals alike. Congress expressed its dissatisfaction with the opinion in 1968 when it passed 18 U.S.C. § 3501, which attempted to restore a totality of the circumstances voluntariness standard for the admissibility of confessions. Courts have largely ignored the statute since its promulgation, however, because the U.S. Department of Justice has consistently refused to invoke it, and the Supreme Court has avoided comment on its constitutionality. Last February, in United States v. Dickerson, the Fourth Circuit reached the issue of § 3501's constitutionality and held that because Congress acted within its authority in superseding Miranda with 18 U.S.C. § 3501, Miranda no longer governs the admissibility of confessions in federal courts. In applying the voluntariness test of § 3501 instead of Miranda's more stringent standard, the Dickerson court failed to consider properly the constitutional nature of Miranda's holding. This failure is grounded in the court's disregard for the key distinction between a constitutional requirement for a particular safeguard and a requirement for a functional safeguard.

Keywords: Miranda, Criminal Procedure, Fifth Amendment

Suggested Citation

Chiang, Emily, Recent Case - United States v. Dickerson, 166 F.3d 667 (4th Cir. 1999) (May 13, 2000). Harvard Law Review, Vol. 113, p. 1039, 2000. Available at SSRN:

Emily Chiang (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801 585-5288 (Phone)
801 581-6897 (Fax)

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