Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights, and addresses criminal procedure and other aspects of the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment applies to every level of the government, including the federal, state, and local levels, as well as any corporation, private enterprise, group, or individual, or any foreign government in regard to a US citizen or resident of the US. The Supreme Court furthered the protections of this amendment through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
One provision of the Fifth Amendment requires that felonies be tried only upon indictment by a grand jury. Another provision, the Double Jeopardy Clause, provides the right of defendants to be tried only once in federal court for the same offense. The self-incrimination clause provides various protections against self-incrimination, including the right of an individual not to serve as a witness in a criminal case in which they are the defendant. "Pleading the Fifth" is a colloquial term often used to invoke the self-incrimination clause when witnesses decline to answer questions where the answers might incriminate them. In the 1966 case of Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court held that the self-incrimination clause requires the police to issue a Miranda warning to criminal suspects interrogated while under police custody. The Fifth Amendment also contains the Takings Clause, which allows the federal government to take private property for public use if the government provides "just compensation."
- Nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
- Fifth Amendment (1791).
- The Fifth Amendment is an old friend and a good friend, one of the great landmarks in men's struggle to be free of tyranny, to be decent and civilized.
- William O. Douglas, An Almanac of Liberty (1954), p. 238.
- I am ready and willing to testify before the representatives of our Government as to my own opinions and my own actions, regardless of any risks or consequences to myself.
But I am advised by counsel that if I answer the committee’s questions about myself, I must also answer questions about other people and that if I refuse to do so, I can be cited for contempt. My counsel tells me that if I answer questions about myself, I will have waived my rights under the fifth amendment and could be forced legally to answer questions about others. This is very difficult for a layman to understand. But there is one principle that I do understand: I am not willing, now or in the future, to bring bad trouble to people who, in my past association with them, were completely innocent of any talk or any action that was disloyal or subversive.
- Lillian Hellman, Letter to the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) of the US House of Representatives (19 May 1952).
- Had those who drew and ratified the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth Amendment or the Fourteenth Amendment known the components of liberty in its manifold possibilities, they might have been more specific. They did not presume to have this insight. They knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.
- It just makes me uncomfortable that the president, whoever it is, is the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner, all rolled into one. So I'm not suggesting something that would slow down response. But where there is time to submit it to a third party, a court, in confidence, and get a judgment that, yes, there’s sufficient evidence, that feels to me like that’s, its not full compliance with the Fifth Amendment … but some independent check on our executive is healthy for the system.
- Senator Angus King (I-Maine), on CNN's "State of the Union" (February 10, 2013).
- I don't give a shit what happens. I want you all to stonewall it, let them plead the Fifth Amendment, cover up or anything else, if it'll save it, save this plan. That's the whole point. We're going to protect our people if we can.
- [N]ot once in the history of the American Republic has this Court ever suggested the death penalty is categorically impermissible. The reason is obvious: It is impossible to hold unconstitutional that which the Constitution explicitly contemplates. The Fifth Amendment provides that "[n]o person shall be held to answer for a capital . . . crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury," and that no person shall be "deprived of life . . . without due process of law."
- In enacting the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, the Framers similarly chose to employ the 'life, liberty, or property' formulation, though they otherwise deviated substantially from the States' use of Magna Carta's language in the Clause. When read in light of the history of that formulation, it is hard to see how the 'liberty' protected by the Clause could be interpreted to include anything broader than freedom from physical restraint. That was the consistent usage of the time when 'liberty' was paired with 'life' and 'property'. And that usage avoids rendering superfluous those protections for 'life' and 'property'. If the Fifth Amendment uses 'liberty' in this narrow sense, then the Fourteenth Amendment likely does as well.