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The Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona

About the Film

“You have the right to remain silent.” These words are now so familiar thanks to television shows and movies that it’s hard to conceive that they haven’t always been a part of American history. Before these words became a common staple of American culture the Fifth Amendment’s right against self-incrimination was virtually impossible to protect both in court and in police interrogation rooms around the country.

And then came Ernesto Miranda.

In 1963 Ernesto Miranda was arrested for robbery and sexual assault. Police investigators followed a trail of evidence quite literally to his front door and with the case that ensued the evolution of the Fifth Amendment began. Miranda was put in an interrogation room but was never advised of his right to not be compelled to incriminate himself, or of his Sixth Amendment right to a lawyer. Before long, he confessed. It is this confession that came into question during Miranda’s court trial. Did he voluntarily confess? Was he intimidated or coerced into confessing? Should he have had a lawyer at the time of his arrest in order to protect his Sixth Amendment right?

The Right to Remain Silent chronicles the legal, social and historical background that led to the Supreme Court’s 1966 Miranda decision, including the country’s history of police brutality and the legal controversies regarding the Court’s expansion of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

The jury convicted Ernesto Miranda within hours and he was sentenced to serve 20-30 years in prison.  In 1966, Miranda wrote a handwritten petition for a writ of certiorari from prison – he asked the Supreme Court of the United States to hear his case. And it did.

The Miranda opinion, written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, a former prosecutor and Attorney General of the state of California, is a testament to our country’s commitment to protecting criminal rights. Warren declares that police intimidation threatens human dignity, and that the best way to preserve it is not through the Fifth or Sixth Amendment rights alone, but through a marriage of the two: The Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination via the Sixth Amendment right to a lawyer to protect the privilege.

The Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona is a story of how a man guilty of heinous crime influenced and ultimately improved the law and with it our constitutional rights.

 

Further Reading

The Miranda decision, via the NARA

The Supreme Court’s latest decision regarding Miranda rights, decided in summer of 2013

Earl Warren’s handwritten notes concerning the Miranda decision

Annenberg Lesson Plan

 

Credits

Producer, Writer and Narrator, Robe Imbriano
Associate Producers, Gregory Blanc and Tiffany Hagger
Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Graphics Animators, Victoria Nece and Hiroaki Sasa
Photography, Edward Marritz
Production Associate, Stephanie Chang
Coordinating Producer, Heidi Christenson
Sound, Mark Mandler and Roger Phenix
Music, Gavin Allen and Ben Decter
Production Accountants, Mara Connolly and Andrea Yellen
Interns, Jennie Joyce and Kelin Long
Assistant to the Executive Producer, Jo Budzolowicz and Daphne Grayson
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin

A Call to Act

About the Film

Gadsden, Alabama is home of the Noccalula Falls and the Broad St. Bridge. It’s also home to a Goodyear Tire plant … and a hardworking grandmother whose fight for equality would take her from the factory floor, to the Supreme Court, and all the way to the White House.

Lilly Ledbetter didn’t set out to be a hero. For almost 20 years, as an area manager – much of that time the only female manager at the plant – she supervised the making of tons of radial tires, managed the men who made them, won awards for her skills, and loved her job. After almost 20 years she was about to quietly retire.

Then one day, just before starting a 12-hour shift, she found handwritten note in her mailbox. It was stunning: a list of salaries that included Ledbetter’s and those of some male colleagues. It turned out that the entire time she’d worked at the Goodyear plant, most of two decades, she’d been paid less – substantially less – that her male counterparts. Not only that, but her pension was tied to her salary, meaning that for the rest of her life, Ledbetter would get less – substantially less – that her male colleagues. “Now if that’s not discrimination,” Ledbetter says, “I don’t know what it is.”

Ledbetter sued and a jury agreed, awarding her over $3 million. Goodyear appealed the verdict and for years the case wound its way through the court system. In 2007, the case reached the United States Supreme Court – nearly a decade after it was originally filed. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled in Goodyear’s favor. Lilly Ledbetter had lost.

Even though that meant Ledbetter could never recover the lost pay and pension for herself, that didn’t mean she gave up fighting for others. She testified at Congressional committee hearings, appeared at political rallies, gave interviews to the media, and even spoke at a national political convention. Congress heard her and sent a bill to the White House that would prevent anyone else from being treated the way Lilly Ledbetter was. In January of 2009, The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became the first law signed by President Obama.

“If an individual believes and got the grit that it takes,” Lilly Ledbetter explains, “they can stand up and continue fighting and make a difference.”

A Call to Act: Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. tells the story of a remarkable fight for equality and fairness. As Senior Presidential Advisor Valerie Jarrett says about Lilly Ledbetter, “She was willing to fight hard on behalf of all the other women who still had an opportunity to be treated equally.”


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Credits

Writer, Producer and Narrator, Robe Imbriano
Associate Producer, Gregory Blanc
Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Graphics Animators, Victoria Nece and Hiroaki Sasa
Photography, Edward Marritz and Daniel O’Shea
Production Associate, Andy Ogden
Consultant, María E. Matasar-Padilla
Coordinating Producers, Christina Lowery and Heidi Christenson
Sound, Mark Mandler and Derek Johnston
Music, Ben Decter and Gavin Allen
Additional Field Production, Carla Denly
Additional Graphics, Tristian Goik
Interns, Andrew Mangino and Carla Altaras
Production Accountants, Mara Connolly and Andrea Yellen
Assistant to the Executive Producer, Lauren Mitte
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin

Jury Selection: Edmonson v. Leesville

About the Film

“The little man can win,” says Thaddeus Edmonson, “but you have to fight.”

In 1984, Thaddeus Edmonson was working on a construction site in Louisiana when he was badly injured on the job. Though the construction company, Leesville Concrete, covered his expenses for a time, in the end he was left with piles of bills he had no way to pay. So he sued.

A simple personal injury suit, right? Well, not this one. This case wound up in the Supreme Court of the United States.


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Whenever a jury is selected lawyers on both sides get to excuse a number of potential jurors without explanation. They’re called peremptory challenges and lawyers, on the whole, think they’re a good thing. “If I have a bad vibe,” says Edmonson’s lawyer, James Doyle, “I’m going to listen to my vibes because I’ve learned over the years that they’re generally correct.” But what if a lawyer’s vibe isn’t based on anything a juror does or says? What if it’s based on something else – something like a person’s race?

Well, the lawyers for Leesville Concrete excluded two potential jurors solely because of their race … and Edmondson thought that was wrong. He fought from the courtroom in Lake Charles, LA, all the way to the Supreme Court in Washington DC, which had ruled in 1986 that jurors couldn’t be excluded in criminal cases, but had said nothing about civil cases like Edmonson’s

In 1991 the highest court in the land decided in favor of Edmonson. Since then, because a construction worker from Louisiana battled for what he believed was right, no potential juror in any American court can be excluded from a jury because of race.

Jury Selection: Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Company tells the story of how one man’s personal injury suit became a fight to protect every person’s Constitutional rights.

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Credits

Writer, Producer and Narrator, Robe Imbriano
Associate Producer, Gregory Blanc
Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Graphics Animators, Victoria Nece and Hiroaki Sasa
Photography, Edward Marritz
Production Associate, Andy Ogden
Consultant, María E. Matasar-Padilla
Coordinating Producers, Christina Lowery and Heidi Christenson
Sound, Mark Mandler and Roger Phenix
Music, Ben Decter and Gavin Allen
Additional Graphics, Tristian Goik and Michael Truong
Production Accountants, Mara Connolly and Andrea Yellen
Interns, Andrew Mangino and Carla Altaras
Assistant to the Executive Producer, Lauren Mitte
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin

Yick Wo and the Equal Protection Clause

About the Film

We don’t know a lot about Yick Wo. We’re not even sure that was his name. But it was the name of the laundry business he owned in San Francisco in the late 19th century. And it was the name listed on a Supreme Court decision that forever changed American law.

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In 1880, the city of San Francisco passed a health and safety ordinance: All laundries in wooden buildings had to get the approval of the Board of Supervisors in order to obtain a license. The law, on its face, didn’t single out the Chinese. But when it was applied, every Chinese laundry owner in the city was denied a permit. Every white-owned laundry was granted a permit.

Yick Wo refused to shut down his business and was arrested. He fought his case from behind bars. He took it all the way to the Supreme Court.

 

The Supreme Court determined that the ordinance was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection” clause – because of the unequal application of the law. It was the very first Supreme Court case to use this standard – and it did so almost 80 years before the Court’s landmark rulings striking down Jim Crow statutes enacted in the segregationist South.

“The holding of Yick Wo,” Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy says in the film, “was that a law that’s administered with an evil eye or an unequal hand violates your right to equal protection.”

But that wasn’t the only precedent set by this remarkable case. Yick Wo was not an American citizen – because by law he wasn’t allowed to be. Yet the Court ruled that his rights were still protected by the 14th Amendment because it says that no state shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” It does not limit that protection only to citizens.

Since the case was decided in 1886, the decision has been cited in more than 160 opinions in the Supreme Court alone.

Yick Wo and the Equal Protection Clause tells the story of an unlikely Constitutional hero and the extraordinary impact his case has had on how we view our Constitutional protections today.

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Further Reading

Find out more about Chinese immigration to California in the 19th century

Read the Supreme Court’s decision in Yick Wo v. Hopkins

Credits

Producer, Writer and Narrator, Robe Imbriano
Field Producer, Carla Denly
Associate Producer, Sandra McDaniel
Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Graphics Animators, Hiroaki Sasa and Victoria Nece
Camera, Dave Dellaria, Brett Wiley and Edward Marritz
Production Associate, Gregory Blanc
Research, María E. Matasar-Padilla
Supervising Producer, Christina Lowery
Sound, Dave Baum, Brian Buckley and Mark Mandler
Music, Ben Decter and Gavin Allen
Interns, Hannah Dillon, Mimi Giboin, Yvonne Liu and Mel Zahnd
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin

One Person, One Vote

About the Film

An examination of the Supreme Court’s dilemmas and tensions as it stepped into the “political thicket” of voting and representational equality, establishing the practice of what has become a core American principle: “One person, one vote.”

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It has the echo of a core American belief. It rings with the same distinctively American clarion call for equality and individual empowerment that reaches back through the ages to the nation’s founding: “…of the people, by the people, for the people”, “All men are created equal”…

But it wasn’t until 1963 that “One person, one vote” became a widely articulated core principle of the Constitution when it was first spoken by Chief Justice Earl Warren’s Supreme Court.

The Warren Court transformed the nation’s political and social landscape in the middle of the twentieth century, applying the Constitution’s expressions of fairness and equality to American life in sometimes startling, courageous, and even jarring ways. But no decisions were as important to the nation or as grueling to the members of the Court as those surrounding equality in voting and representation, known collectively as the Apportionment Cases.

Starting with the Court’s 1962 decision in Baker v. Carr and culminating in 1964 with the case of Reynolds v. Sims, the value of “One person, one vote,” once brought to light, seemed so profoundly rooted in the Constitution its practice became “inevitable.”

Yet at the time these decisions were anything but “inevitable.” It was a wrenching, agonizing time for the Justices. To establish equality in voting and representation, the Court had to overcome deeply rooted political traditions throughout the entire nation, entrenched political powers fiercely opposed to change, and its own precedent, Colegrove v. Green, that some members of the Court believed with every bone in their bodies protected the very practice of democracy in America – as well as the integrity and viability of the Court.

Through all of this, the Chief Justice understood the urgent necessity to press ahead. Of all of the groundbreaking rulings his Court rendered throughout his tenure as Chief Justice, he called the Court’s choice to tackle this issue in Baker, its “most vital decision.”

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Further Reading

Chief Justice Earl Warren

The Warren Court, 1953-1969

Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter

Associate Justice William Brennan

Register to Vote

Contact your Congressional Representative

Contact your Senator

Learn More About Your State Government

Credits

Producer, Writer, and Narrator, Robe Imbriano
Associate Producer, Maria E. Matasar-Padilla
Editors, Brad Smith and Marc Tidalgo
Graphics Animators, Victoria Nece and Hiroaki Sasa
Camera, Edward Marritz
Production Associate, Gregory Blanc
Coordinating Producer, Christina Lowery
Sound, Mark Mandler
Music, Ben Decter and Gavin Allen
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin

An Independent Judiciary

About the Film

An Independent Judiciary examines both the impact Chief Justice John Marshall had on defining the role of the judiciary in the republic’s crucial early years, as well as two episodes in the struggle to ensure that judicial independence be accepted by the other branches of the government and the people themselves as a fundamental principal of American life.


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We speak with Associate Justice Stephen Breyer as well as some of the foremost Constitutional scholars and John Marshall experts to understand the role the Chief Justice played in shaping the Supreme Court, the judiciary and the nation. Professor James Simon, the author of the Marshall biography What Kind of Nation and Dean Emeritus at New York Law School, provides insight and context to help understand Chief Justice Marshall’s impact on the early republic. Meanwhile, Professors Laurence Tribe and Charles Ogletree of Harvard Law School guide us through Marshall’s most important case, Marbury v. Madison, and the principle of judicial review it helped establish.

We also review two historical episodes, over 120 years apart, that have proven just how important judicial independence is to a free and democratic country.

The first episode is the Cherokee Nation’s attempt in the 1830s to retain its territory in Georgia. The tribe chose not to fight on the battlefield but in the courts, which gave it a fair hearing. But the Supreme Court’s final ruling in favor of the Indian tribe, written by Chief Justice John Marshall as he was nearing the end of his illustrious time on the Court, was defied by President Jackson and Georgia state officials. The result was not only a weakening of the judiciary’s standing in the federal government and in the eyes of the people, but also a national tragedy and one of the darkest chapters of American history, the Trail of Tears. Associate Justice Stephen Breyer discusses the impact this case had on the Court, and Cherokee storyteller Gayle Ross, a descendent of the Cherokee Nation’s Principal Chief during these tumultuous times, the esteemed John Ross, explains how the nation’s defiance ultimately led to the death of thousands of Cherokee Indians.

By the time of our second episode, in 1957, the Constitution and the nation had been changed by Civil War and a century’s experience. This time, the Executive fulfilled his charge to carry out the law by integrating the public schools of Little Rock, Arkansas despite public protests and the open defiance of Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus. Captured on film, President Dwight Eisenhower turns a terrible moment in the nation’s fight for equal rights into a Constitutional triumph, and the Supreme Court affirms that justice depends on judicial independence.

At the center of the fight to integrate Little Rock Central High School was the Little Rock 9, a group of teenagers who bravely faced outright public hostility to their desire to attend one of the most prestigious high schools in Arkansas.

Roy Reed, Arkansas historian and journalist and author of the biography Faubus, helps us understand what motivated Governor Faubus and the people of Arkansas to attempt to openly defy the Supreme Court. And Ernest Green, one of the Little Rock 9 and the first African-American to graduate from Central High, talks about how the actions of the President and the Supreme Court affirming the judiciary’s independence personally changed his life.

An Independent Judiciary is part of a series of films produced for Annenberg Classroom, a project of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands in partnership with the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. AnnenbergClassroom.org is an online gateway to award-winning resources for students and teachers.

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Further Reading

Learn more about Chief Justice John Marshall

Learn about the Cherokee Nation

Read about the Cherokee Nation’s first principle chief, John Ross

See who the Little Rock Nine students were

Credits

Producer, Writer and Narrator, Robe Imbriano
Associater Producer, María E. Matasar-Padilla
Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Graphics Animators, Jimmy Higgins and Stevie Clifton
Camera, Edward Marritz and Daryl Pendana
Production Associates, Caitlin Costin and Thomas Beckner
Coordinating Producer, Gabrielle Tenenbaum
Sound, Mark Mandler
Music, Ben Decter and Gavin Allen
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin

Checks and Balances

About the Film

In Youngstown v. Sawyer, a battle that starts as fight between a president and industry leaders makes its way to the Supreme Court as a test of the separation of powers. This time the setting is the Oval Office. Harry S. Truman is President, and he had inherited from his predecessor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a remarkable amount of power. After finishing the war with Germany and Japan, Truman and almost losing to Thomas Dewey in the 1948 election, Truman was back for one more term, and he went back to war…sort of. Truman sent troops to fight in Korea without asking Congress to declare war.

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But when union troubles among steelworkers and the steel industry executives threatened to halt production, Truman did all he could to keep the factories running—he needed that steel to help fight the conflict in Korea, after all. But Truman went too far. Unwilling to use the provisions of a recent law passed by Congress to deal with just this sort of situation because he believed it was unfair to the union, Truman did what he considered to be his only option: he took over the steel industry.

But the industry was not willing to take this lying down and within a few short weeks the case had reached the Supreme Court. Truman assumed he’d be victorious—he was the President, after all, and all of the Justices had been appointed either by him or FDR. And yet the Court, affirming its independence and proving that it’s free from political considerations, sided against the President and took the first step to limiting the powers of the office of the Chief Executive just years after they had been at their highest.

Further Reading

Learn about Harry Truman from the Truman Library

Read Truman’s presidential address about the steel seizure

Read Justice Jackson’s decision in Youngstown v. Sawyer

Credits

Producer and Writer, Robe Imbriano
Associate Producer, Maria E. Matasar-Padilla
Editors, Sak Costanzo and Liz Mermin
Graphics Animator, Stevie Clifton
Director of Photography, Edward Marritz
Narrator, Erik Todd Dellums
Host, Dan Harris
Production Associate, Konstantinos Kambouroglou
Coordinating Producer, Gabrielle Tenenbaum
Sound, Mark Mandler
Music, Gavin Allen and Ben Decter
Associate Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Senior Editorial Producer, Todd Brewster
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin

Creating a Constitution

About the Film

Key Constitutional Concepts is a three-part film examining the creation of the Constitution and two real-life Constitutional conflicts that came to be seen as landmark Supreme Court cases: Gideon v. Wainwright and Youngstown v. Sawyer.

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Creating a Constitution takes a close look at the writing of the Constitution, taking us into Independence Hall in Philadelphia that hot summer in 1787 as the Founding Fathers, facing the very real possibility that their new country was going to fall apart from the outside in. The Founders bickered and compromised their way to a government that all of them would be surprised to find is still in existence over 200 years later.

As part of a box-set of classroom resources from Annenberg Classroom, Key Constitutional Concepts has been distributed to 50,000 educational institutions, as well as the U.S. Dept of Justice, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress.

Further Reading

See the Constitution at Our Documents from the National Archive

Check out Professor Carol Berkin’s biographies of the Framers

Learn about Philadelphia’s Independence Hall

Credits

Producer and Writer, Robe Imbriano
Associate Producer, Maria E. Matasar-Padilla
Editors, Sak Costanzo and Liz Mermin
Graphics Animator, Stevie Clifton
Director of Photography, Edward Marritz
Narrator, Erik Todd Dellums
Host, Dan Harris
Production Associate, Konstantinos Kambouroglou
Coordinating Producer, Gabrielle Tenenbaum
Sound, Mark Mandler
Music, Gavin Allen and Ben Decter
Associate Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Senior Editorial Producer, Todd Brewster
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin