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The 5th Amendment: Inalienable Right or Abused Privilege?

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This week, former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay made news not by what he said, but by what he did not say. Before a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, Lay invoked his 5th Amendment rights not to testify. While the hearings were not a criminal trial, Lay feared that his testimony might come back to haunt him should a criminal trial ever happen. The right to "take the 5th" is one of the most well-known but least understood of the rights that Americans take for granted. This hour, we dive into the history and implications of the 5th Amendment. How has it been used and abused throughout American history? Is it a right that meets its original purpose?


Charles Tiefer, Professor of law at The University of Baltimore

Samuel Dash, Professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center

chief counsel of the Senate Watergate committee

This program aired on February 13, 2002.


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