In a San Francisco jail after being arrested at an anti-war rally, Lily Haskell had to decide whether to give a DNA sample, as felony arrestees in California must do, or refuse the cheek swab and be charged with another misdemeanor. She chose the latter, says The Recorder in San Francisco. Haskell is lead plaintiff in a suit that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is rehearing next month. It’s a test case dealing with the expectation of privacy that people have over their DNA.
Waiting in the wings is the California Supreme Court’s review of a state court of appeal panel’s forceful decision finding the DNA collection unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has telegraphed that it is likely to take up a criminal case in Maryland that raises the same question. The lawyer bringing the federal challenge to California’s DNA swab law, Michael Risher of the ACLU of Northern California, hopes the Ninth Circuit will stop the state from adding arrestee DNA to its already sprawling databank of criminal DNA profiles. “We as Americans don’t want the government to have all that information about us,” said Risher, who’s preparing for the en banc oral arguments set for the week of Sept. 17.