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Debating Our Rights: The Fifth Amendment

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019, 07:00pm
The Fifth Amendment: An Inconvenient Right

On September 11 at 7PM at Brooks Memorial Library, the Debating Our Rights series will focus on the Constitution’s most inconvenient right. The Fifth Amendment protects all persons from being “compelled to be a witness against themselves.” Prosecutors know that confession is the securest path to conviction. Why did the Framers of the Bill of Rights make it easier for guilty persons to get off free?

Meg Mott, professor of politics at Marlboro College, draws on case law and political theory to lay out the principles, practices, hopes, and fears behind the Fifth Amendment. “The framers understood the right to not incriminate oneself as a key component of a free country,” explains Mott. “Forced confessions was something Spanish Inquisitors did; not American judges.”

But just because the Fifth Amendment enumerates certain liberties for the accused doesn’t mean that those liberties have always been read in the same way. Over the course of our nation’s history, the right to remain silent has received different interpretations, depending on the circumstances of the time. On the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, we’ll be asked to consider whether we are willing to give this inconvenient right our unwavering support.

Thanks to the Friends of Brooks Memorial Library, the Debating Our Rights series is free and open to the public. The library is located at 224 Main St. and is accessible to all. For more information, call the reference desk at 802-254-5290 ext. 1220.
Location  Library Main Reading Room
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