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When Chief Justice Burger announced the decision in Harris v. New York–holding that statements elicited in violation of Miranda v. Arizona may be used to impeach–he reportedly characterized it as a matter "of interest mostly to members of the bar" and not worth describing from the bench. On the surface, his opinion for the Court–joined by Justices Blackmun, Harlan, Stewart and White–does indeed give an impression of little general interest or importance. It is very short–just eleven paragraphs–and is written in the flat, descriptive style typical of simple and uncontroversial cases. The initial six paragraphs set out the facts; the seventh argues that Miranda cannot be regarded as controlling; and the remainder of the opinion consists of four arguments–really assertions–in support of the Court's result. There is no indication that important considerations of policy have been weighed or that significant practical results may flow from the decision. Rarely, however, has so short an opinion concealed so much.

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