There have been many interesting cases before the Supreme Court as of late, and the most recent one relates to whether or not police have the right to collect someone’s DNA upon arrest. Justice Samuel Alito has called the case “perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard in decades.” Given the Obama Administration’s complete contempt for civil liberties and The Constitution, they are siding with the state of Maryland in the case. I am strongly opposed to the collection of DNA upon arrest for various reasons, but the primary one being that when you are arrested you are still presumed innocent. I do not think an arrest (which could be wrongful) should allow the state to collect your genetic information. From Bloomberg:
The U.S. Supreme Court, hearing what one justice said might be the biggest criminal procedure case in decades, considered overturning as many as 29 state and federal laws that allow the collection of DNA samples when a person is arrested.
In an hour-long argument full of rapid-fire questions, the justices debated whether the constitutional ban on unreasonable searches requires officials to wait until a person is convicted.
The ruling in the Maryland case will be the court’s first on the privacy of genetic information and may have implications for other cutting-edge police techniques in the future.
Several justices, including Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia, suggested they may cross the ideological lines that often divide the court. Scalia signaled his skepticism toward Maryland’s collection program immediately, scoffing when the state’s lawyer opened her argument by touting the 225 matches and 42 convictions the state had secured.
“I’ll bet you if you conducted a lot of unreasonable searches and seizures, you’d get more convictions, too,” Scalia said. “That proves absolutely nothing.”
Breyer pointed to the usefulness of DNA, saying court filings by outside groups described “case after case” where samples from arrested people had helped exonerate someone who had been wrongfully convicted.
So the above argument seems reasonable, but why can’t we just provide for the option of someone who is innocent to voluntarily submit their DNA to prove their innocence. That way not everyone who is arrested can be violated.
The court is considering the case of Alonzo King, who was arrested in Maryland for assault in 2009 and was linked through his DNA to an unsolved 2003 rape. President Barack Obama’s administration is backing Maryland in the case.
After taking a sample, Maryland ships it to a laboratory to create a profile — a string of numbers almost always unique to that person. The state then submits the profile to CODIS, a national database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The database allows comparison of the new profile to unknown DNA on file.
Sorry, that’s extremely creepy.
Maryland’s chief deputy attorney general, Katherine Winfree, argued that arrested people have a “reduced expectation of privacy.” The state also points to safeguards in the law, including requirements that samples be destroyed, with the records expunged, if a judge throws out the charges or the person is acquitted.
Winfree drew resistance from Chief Justice John Roberts, who said her argument would apply equally to “anybody pulled over for a traffic violation.”
For those of you still on the fence with regard to this case, I want to point out another noted authoritarian who is strongly in favor of DNA collection, Eric Posner, who is a Professor at the University of Chicago Law School. Remember this guy? I highlighted his attack on the First Amendment last September. Well this is what Posner had to say about this case:
If we really care about rights, we should mandate DNA testing, and not only of arrestees, but of everyone. A universal DNA database would greatly increase the number of convictions—vindicating the rights of rape victims and protecting others from serial rapists. It would also, of course, help police solve other crimes in which criminals leave behind hair, blood, flakes of skin, and so on. Such a database would greatly reduce the incidence of false convictions, thus protecting the rights of innocent people who are wrongly accused. And a higher hit rate would cause police to spend more resources collecting DNA evidence at crime scenes, giving them more ammunition for solving cold cases—just because the higher payoff in terms of convictions would justify the higher costs.
Yet dinosaurs like the ACLU stand in the way of such sensible reforms, because of their customary focus on the rights of criminal suspects and defendants at the time of arrest and trial. The ACLU’s own DNA prevents it from seeing that superior investigative techniques will do more to protect innocent people than an extra right or two at the stage of arrest. The Supreme Court will likely disagree, and rightly so.
This guy proves where this whole thing is headed in the future if we don’t stop it now. He claims that a universal DNA database “would greatly reduce the incidence of false convictions.” I completely disagree and think that the more widely available someone’s DNA is, the greater opportunity for abuse. Then he calls the ACLU a “dinosaur.” This from a guy that wrote this last year:
“Even other Western nations take a more circumspect position on freedom of expression than we do, realizing that often free speech must yield to other values and the need for order.”
So who’s the dinosaur Mr. Posner?
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