The trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should raise some very interesting legal questions.
After being pursued as a terrorist, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will apparently be tried in a civilian court. The defendant went through sixteen hours of interrogation before he was given his Miranda rights. Will the “public safety exception” hold up through an appeal process in a civilian court, or will the case be thrown out? After all, Miranda is not a law in and of itself but a crystallization of the constitutional principle that every accused person has certain rights and should be told those before being interrogated. If the right can be waived for any citizen simply because they are called “terrorist” what does that mean for the Constitution?
Of late, we waive Miranda rights for people accused of being terrorists, but a trial may raise the question why Muslim killers receive that label, but not white Christians like the killers at Columbine and Sandy Hook? Will the principle of “equal treatment before the law” surface in this trial?
Will anyone ask what constitutional sense it makes to interrogate someone as an “enemy combatant” when no war has not been declared?
It would be a terrible thing for a dangerous killer to walk free on technicalities. It is also a terrible thing when core constitutional principles have to be gutted to prevent that from happening.