Our frequent visitor Bennett Haselton emailed me recently with a question about the Fifth Amendment, and I invited him to expand his question into a guest post. Here it is:
I have a question that has only provoked a lot of confused righteous indignation in other forums, and I wonder if TBQ readers might have more thoughtful responses, if we phrase it as a logic puzzle.
My question: I don’t see why it’s good policy to give criminal defendants a Fifth Amendment right to silence in their own trial, as opposed to giving them the same rights and obligations as third-party witnesses (who can be subpoenaed and required to answer questions).
Now obviously I’m not saying that the state should be able to torture someone until they confess to something. When I say give defendants the “same rights and obligations as third-party witnesses”, I mean: