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The Sixth Amendment is the heartland of constitutional criminal procedure, yet the legal community lacks a good map of its basic contours, a good sense of its underlying ecosystem, a good plan for its careful cultivation. Amidst all the Amendment's tightly configured clauses, scholars, lawyers, and judges have often lost their way. The result, at times, has been bad constitutional law and bad criminal procedure. In this article, I offer a general framework for understanding the Sixth Amendment's first principles-for seeing how its many clauses fit together and cohere with other constitutional clauses and principles outside the Amendment. In both interpretive methodology and substantive conclusion, my analysis today dovetails with the analysis put forth in two earlier articles, Fourth Amendment First Principles2 and Fifth Amendment First Principles.
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