Senate Confirms Judicial Pick Who Fought Miranda Rules
The Senate voted Monday to confirm Utah law professor Paul Cassell to the federal judiciary, but his bid to weaken protections for suspected criminals led several senators to question whether he belongs on the bench.
“Professor Cassell has shown himself to be intemperate and one-sided,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). “This man does not belong on the court.”
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) came to the nominee’s defense, citing Cassell’s work representing a 12-year-old sex abuse victim who had not been allowed to oppose a plea deal struck with his attacker. Hatch said Cassell is one of the most honorable men he knows. In the end, 20 senators voted against Cassell, the largest number to oppose any of President Bush’s 57 judicial nominees confirmed so far. Sixty-seven senators voted to confirm Cassell to the vacancy on the U.S. District Court in Utah.
Much of the controversy around Cassell stems from his crusade to redefine the Miranda warning, the “right to remain silent” and other protections that have been a staple of police protocol since 1966.
In 2000, Cassell argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that voluntary confessions to crimes should not be discarded simply because officers had not read suspects their Miranda rights.
In a 7-2 ruling, the justices disagreed.