The Supreme Court: Now Comes the Sixth Amendment

In case after case, the Supreme Court is putting new muscle into the 174-year-old Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Amendments 1 through 8 were long held to protect individuals only against the powers of the Federal Government, but now they are becoming a shield against the states as well. Last week the court raised that shield once more by applying to all state criminal courts the Sixth Amendment guarantee that anyone accused of crime shall "be confronted with the witnesses against him."

The "confrontation clause" is basic to the U.S. idea of fact-finding trials;...