I’m confused about it, basically.
The ruling says that suspects must announce that they choose to remain silent in order to halt an interrogation. Which on one hand is irony of a particularly rich and creamy sort, but on the other hand does make some amount of practical sense. In the case that precipitated the ruling, the suspect said he understood his rights and claimed to remain silent while the cops interrogated him, but in fact several times answered or responded to questions posed to him by cops. Why did the cops keep interrogating him after he kept silent? Because that’s their gig — to get people to talk. Which the guy did; he had the right to remain silent, but didn’t, after he said he understood his rights.
The crux of the issue seems to be that the police dropped him into an interrogation room after the fellow had decided to remain silent, but since he did not communicate that intent to the cops, they went ahead with the interrogation anyway. I’m sure their line of reasoning is that they did not explicitly know he chose not to speak to them, just that he was being standard-issue uncommunicative and they were trying to pry out information.
Thus, again, the irony of having to say to the cops you choose not to speak to the cops in order not to have to speak to the cops. Intellectually I’m not a fan of this ruling — the rights a suspect has should be inherent without needing to be invoked (and that includes the right to representation, which as I understand must currently be invoked as well) — but as a practical matter, how do the police know you don’t intend to speak to them at all if you don’t tell them?
As I said: Confusing.
I don’t know that in the long run this is any big break for police, since I do foresee lawsuits in which the defendant accuses the police of not fully informing him/her on how to appropriately invoke his/her right to silence, and a 5-4 ruling, as in this case, suggests a future, ever-so-slightly less conservative Supreme Court might lean more toward the way of the suspect’s rights and require the police to inform the suspect he/she has to say “I don’t want to talk to you,” in order to avoid interrogation. In the meantime, personally speaking, I’m going to memorize the following sentence, should I ever get arrested for anything: “I want my lawyer, and I invoke my right to remain silent.” Spoken in that order, since it’s the most logical way to do it.
I’d be delighted to hear from people who know more about this than I do. This is my layman’s take, based on what I’ve read in the news. I may have squidged some pertinent details thereby.