High Court, 5 to 4, Says Police May Take DNA From Arrestees With No Warrant


By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court today upheld a Maryland law that allows police to collect DNA from arrestees without first getting a warrant, NPR reports. “When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody, taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy. He was supported by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito.

The dissenting opinion brought together conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and liberals Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Scalia, for that group, said, “The Court’s assertion that DNA is being taken, not to solve crimes, but to identify those in the State’s custody, taxes the credulity of the credulous. And the Court’s comparison of Maryland’s DNA searches to other techniques, such as fingerprinting, can seem apt only to those who know no more than today’s opinion has chosen to tell them about how those DNA searches actually work.” The ruling can be found here.

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