Rabbinical law, the 5th Amendment, and Michael Cohen’s guilty plea

Rabbinical law, the 5th Amendment, and Michael Cohen’s guilty plea
Trump's 'Michael Cohen' (Image via Twitter)

[Ed. – The same civil liberties that protect accused communists or street criminals may also protect the president or his lawyer.]

The guilty plea of a former lawyer for the Trump Organization, Michael Cohen, was reportedly motivated in part by Cohen’s 83-year-old father, who supposedly told his son that he didn’t “survive the Holocaust to have his name sullied by Mr. Trump.”

It’s unclear whether Michael Cohen or his father are aware of it, but Jewish law that long predates the Holocaust forbids the use of guilty pleas. That tradition may provide some useful perspective on Michael Cohen’s confession and on the American criminal justice system that extracted it.

Don’t just take it from me. No fewer than three U.S. Supreme Court justices have publicly cited the Jewish prohibition on self-incrimination. All three of those justices were noted liberals, which may be something to consider for those on the left who have been cheering Cohen’s guilty plea as a defeat for President Trump.

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Chief Justice Earl Warren, in his landmark opinion in the 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona, wrote, “We sometimes forget how long it has taken to establish the privilege against self-incrimination, the sources from which it came, and the fervor with which it was defended. Its roots go back into ancient times.”

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