A Modest Defense of Mind-Reading
59 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2013 Last revised: 4 Jul 2013
Date Written: October 31, 2012
The last decade has witnessed a profusion of commentary on “mind-reading” devices. The scholarly consensus is clear: by essentially “speaking for” defendants, mind-reading devices would offend the basic spirit of the Self-Incrimination Clause. This Article takes the opposing view. First, I reconstruct the Court’s self-incrimination jurisprudence to demonstrate that evidence is only “testimonial” — and thus, privileged — if it involves a “communicative act” from the suspect. Whether or not particular types of mind-reading devices would elicit “communicative acts” is a narrow, technology-specific question. And at least some mind-reading devices almost certainly would not — making their use permissible under the Fifth Amendment. Second, I defend this doctrinal result against normative attack. Many different accounts of the privilege’s theoretical underpinnings exist. I evaluate these accounts in turn, arguing that some are inapposite to mind reading, while others fail in a deeper sense.
Keywords: Fifth Amendment, self-incrimination, constitutional law, constitutional theory, privacy, mind-reading, law and technology
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