How real is this plan to revise Miranda?
As you know, Eric Holder startled the political world last Sunday when he announced that the administration plans to reach out Congress and develop a plan for a broad exception to Miranda in the case of terror suspects. Holder pronounced this "big news."
But is it? How real is this plan? How likely is it to go anywhere any time soon? After talking to some Dems on the Hill, the answer is this: Not bloody likely.
I just spoke to Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, an ally of the administration and member of the House intelligence committee, who told me Dems are skeptical about the idea, because they don't yet see how such a plan would even work.
"There's definitely skepticism," Schakowsky said. "Miranda warnings are a Constitutional right. Congress can't overrule them."
Schakowsky added that there may be some kind of way to play around with the so-called public safety exception, which allows interrogators more pre-Miranda questioning in certain circumstances. But she said that if there were a way to do this, she hadn't heard about it yet from the administration or anyone else.
"I don't know if there's a way to clarify what a public safety exception would mean and how that would work," Schakowsky said, adding that she and other House Dems hadn't heard any specifics from the administration yet.
Holder said the administration would be reaching out to members of Congress to develop this proposal. But an aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would be the first stop, said they'd heard nothing yet. And even so, with the Senate consumed by a Supreme Court nomination, there's just no way that committee would move on something like this right now.
Separately, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, poured a pail of cold water on criticism of Miranda at a hearing yesterday. And Conyers is not the kind of guy who does stuff he doesn't want to do, even if the administration is pushing him to do it.
It's always possible that key House Dems could warm to the idea -- if they see a specific proposal. But absent such a proposal, it's simply impossible to gauge whether it's even possible, let alone whether leading Dems will support it. And in any case, civil libertarians think that a battle over a change like this would go all the way to the Supreme Court.
For now, let's keep this one in the we'll-believe-this-when-we-see-it files.
May 14, 2010; 12:43 PM ET
Categories: Foreign policy and national security , House Dems , Senate Dems
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