Supreme Court Conservatives Could Block MD DNA Arrestee Sampling


The conflicting tug of personal privacy and crime-solving technology tore at the Supreme Court yesterday as justices considered whether the Fourth Amendment permits police to take DNA samples from arrestees who have not been charged with or convicted of a crime, reports the National Law Journal. Justice Samuel Alito Jr. said he believed the case, Maryland v. King, was “perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard in decades.” The libertarian streak of some court conservatives was on display as they expressed worry about the implications of a Maryland law–similar to those in 27 other states–that does not require a search warrant before police can take a DNA sample from inside the mouths of those arrested for serious crimes. Justice Antonin Scalia set the tone after Deputy Maryland Attorney General Katherine Winfree rattled off the number of convictions obtained and crimes solved when DNA collected under the law matched DNA gathered in previous crimes. “Well, that’s really good!” Scalia exploded. “I’ll bet if you conducted a lot of unreasonable searches and seizures, you’d get more convictions, too. That proves absolutely nothing.”

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