The gist of the case is Alonzo King was arrested for an offense. During the arrest, they took a cheek swab without consent to get DNA evidence from him. He was never convicted of the offense for which he was arrested. The DNA evidence they collected, though, brought to light that he was a suspect in a rape case. The court, in a 5-4 vote, concluded that it’s perfectly fine for police to collect DNA evidence via cheek swab because it’s a trivial violation of a person’s privacy.
Kennedy wrote the opinion and was joined by Roberts, Alito, Breyer, and Thomas. Scalia wrote the dissent joined by Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan. And what a forceful dissent it is. A peek:
The Fourth Amendment forbids searching a person for evidence of a crime when there is no basis for believing the person is guilty of the crime or is in possession of incriminating evidence. That prohibition is categorical and without exception; it lies at the very heart of the Fourth Amendment. Whenever this Court has allowed a suspicionless search, it has insisted upon a justifying motive apart from the investigation of crime.
It is obvious that no such noninvestigative motive exists in this case. 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.
This case makes it ok for the police to collect DNA from anyone they arrest no matter the offense. Protest against the government, DNA swab. Talk back to a police officer, DNA swab. You get a DNA swab! YOU get a DNA swab! YOU ALL GET DNA SWABS!
Blargh. With all the talk about Obama disobeying the Constitution and taking away our rights, no one’s paying attention to the Supreme Court which actually IS taking away our rights.