Published: February 26, 2013
New York Times
On Tuesday, February 26, 2013, the Supreme Court argued over whether the police should take DNA samples from people they arrest. The argument that some people have is that this practice could potentially go against the Fourth Amendment, which states that there can be no unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires any warrant to be supported by probable cause. The question that has arisen is whether the Fourth Amendment should allow DNA to be collected from people who have "merely been arrested and so are presumed innocent.”
A case that collected DNA from a suspect is being reexamined because the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that it violated the Fourth Amendment. The case was about a man named Alonzo Jay King Jr. who was arrested on assault charges in Wicomico County, Maryland. He had a DNA test done by swabbing the inside of his cheek and found that his DNA matched evidence found in a rape case from 2003. But the court recently said that “a state law authorizing DNA collection from people arrested but not yet convicted violates the Fourth Amendment.”
But the opposing view said that “this is perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard in decades.” The state of Maryland has had a lot of success with DNA testing because they have arrested 42 people based on DNA evidence. But Maryland uses this method only for people who are arrested for serious crimes. One supporter of this said that people lose some of their rights when they are arrested and other man said it is fairly easy to obtain genetic material just by testing a glass of water that you drank out of.
A supporter of Maryland’s DNA testing system said that soon DNA will be able to be analyzed in 90 minutes. Justice Scalia said that the laws purpose it “to catch the bad guys, which is a good thing, but the Fourth Amendment sometimes stands in the way.”