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Supreme Court rules your DNA is like a fingerprint, can be collected upon arrest

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 3rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that police may obtain DNA samples from people arrested for serious crimes.

WASHINGTON DC (Catholic Online) - Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority, "When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and they bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody... Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee's D.N.A. is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment."

Kennedy was joined by Justices Roberts, Thomas, Breyer, and Alito. Justice Scalia joined Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan in dissent. Scalia said, "Make no mistake about it: because of today's decision, your D.N.A. can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason."

The case came following the collection of DNA in 2009 from Alonzo Jay king Jr. after his arrest on assault charges in Maryland. After analysis, investigators learned that his DNA profile matched an unsolved 2003 rape case, and he was subsequently convicted for that crime.

His lawyers appealed the conviction saying that a state law authorizing this collection violated the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The Maryland Court of Appeals agreed with the defense, but the state appealed to the Supreme Court.

Now the Supreme Court has ruled that taking DNA swabs is akin to taking fingerprints and photographs during the booking process and may be done.

Naturally, there are privacy concerns associated with this very intimate form of data collection. In the near future, it is expected that as more DNA is collected from suspects, authorities will begin running these profiles against evidence in cold cases.

This could result in solving many more criminal cases in the future since criminals who remain un-caught and unrehabilitated often reoffend.

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