SAN FRANCISCO — Many of the nation's state courts will stand by the Miranda rule even if the U.S. Supreme Court abandons the controversial decision requiring police to warn criminal suspects of their rights before they are questioned, Justice Stanley Mosk said Sunday.
Mosk, the senior member and a 22-year veteran of the California Supreme Court, said the rule is so well established that few states now would revert to a policy of "anything goes at the station house."
The justice, a recognized expert on the growing use of state constitutions to establish individual rights beyond those required by high court decisions, made his remarks in an address at an observance of the Constitutional Bicentennial in Philadelphia.
In the speech, Mosk chided President Reagan for his stance on school prayer and criticized Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III for his repeated attacks on the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Miranda vs. Arizona, which requires police to warn suspects of their rights to silence and counsel. A recent Justice Department report urged an all-out legal assault on the 1966 decision.
"With the roll of drums and the blaring of bugles, Atty. Gen. Meese has led a frontal charge against that bulwark of the Warren Court era," Mosk said. "Will the Supreme Court capitulate?"
Over the years, the high court has steadily narrowed the scope of the 21-year old ruling but left its basic requirements intact. But if the justices do decide to abandon the rule altogether, "many, if not most, states will adhere to the state rules which they adopted to conform to Miranda," Mosk predicted.
"It has taken two decades, but law enforcement officers in the states have become reconciled to giving appropriate warnings to suspects," he said. "And trial judges understand they must reject statements obtained from defendants who were not warned."
More Liberal Stands
Mosk pointed out that several state courts in the nation have adopted more liberal interpretations of the rule than required by the high court.
For example, he said, California, Hawaii and Texas all bar the use of improperly obtained confessions to challenge the truthfulness of a defendant who testifies at trial, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has held that such statements are admissible for impeachment purposes.
Mosk also criticized high court decisions on the constitutional separation of church and state, saying some rulings "have not been a model of clarity." He noted that several state courts have been more strict in enforcing the separation of religion and government--and he reproved Reagan for supporting efforts to allow organized prayer in schools.
"Since the President cannot seem to understand why prayers are inappropriate in public schools, I predict this issue will require future state constitutional considerations," Mosk said.
The justice listed a number of legal areas where state courts, asserting independent state constitutional grounds, have accorded their citizens greater liberties and protections than required under high court interpretations of the U.S. Constitution.
The high court allows law enforcement authorities to examine individual or corporate bank records without a warrant--but California and other states do not authorize that practice, he observed.
Similarly, the U.S. Supreme Court has not recognized education as a "fundamental right"--but California and other states have done so in a series of decisions requiring greater uniformity in school district financing, he said.
Mosk said the increasing trend toward state court independence has given new meaning to the term "states' rights," which a few decades ago symbolized a Southern backlash against the school desegregation rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court.
"There was a time when states' rights were associated with Orval Faubus and George Wallace barring the entrance of blacks to public schools," Mosk said.
"We are long past that confrontational period. Today, states' rights are associated with increased, not lessened, individual guarantees."