The 1919 Murder Case That Gave Americans the Right to Remain Silent

Decades Before the Supreme Court's Miranda Decision, a Washington Triple Slaying Paved the Way to Protect Criminal Suspects

If you’ve ever watched an American television crime drama, you probably can recite a suspect’s rights along with the arresting officers. Those requirements—that prisoners must be informed that they may remain silent, and that they have the right to an attorney—are associated in the public mind with Ernesto Miranda, convicted in Arizona of kidnapping and rape in 1963.

But the “Miranda rights” routinely read to suspects as a result of the 1966 Supreme Court decision that overturned his conviction have their roots in a much earlier case: that of a young …

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How Alexander Hamilton Fought the Tyranny of the Majority

By Shielding British Loyalists From Persecution, the Founder Elevated Principles Over Prejudice

The struggles of America’s cultural outsiders to be included in the country—in the face of disparagement, exclusion, or punishment—are as old as the nation. And, as Alexander Hamilton discovered in …

Why Legislators and Doctors Don’t Always Agree on the Definition of Death

While Patients' Families Think Life Ends With Your Last Breath, 50 States Point to Brain Activity

How can you truly know when someone is dead? Historically, death was determined by holding a mirror up to a person’s mouth to see if they were breathing. But this …

How William the Conqueror Became England’s Peacemaker

The Norman Was Ruthless in Battle, but His Reign Brought Stability and Rule of Law

Since the publication of my William the Conqueror in the Yale University Press English Monarchs series in October 2016, I have often been asked how long it took me to …

How California’s Open Meetings Law Became a Gag Rule

Local Government Has Changed So Much That the Historic Brown Act Is Silencing Us, Not Protecting Us

The Ralph M. Brown Act, first approved in 1953, is celebrated for its supposed guarantees that we citizens have a voice in the decisions of all our local governments.

But today, …