U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Taking of DNA from Arrestees
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Maryland statute that permits the police to take DNA samples from anyone arrested for a serious crime. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the cheek swab was a legitimate identification procedure, like fingerprinting and photographing. The dissent, written by Justice Antonin Scalia and joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan, accused the majority of being disingenuous in pretending the purpose of the DNA testing is identification rather than its real purpose – solving cold cases.
The case, Maryland v. King, challenged a Maryland statute that permitted DNA testing of arrestees for serious crimes. Alonzo Jay King, Jr., had been arrested on assault charges and his DNA was taken. His profile matched evidence from an unsolved rape. He was charged with that rape and convicted.
See the following readings:
- Maryland v. King, 509 U.S. ____ (2013).
- SCOTUSBlog Coverage of Maryland v. King including links to the Docket, lower court’s opinion, U.S. Supreme Court opinion, transcripts and audio of the arguments, and related news coverage.
One really should read Justice Scalia’s dissent to understand the full impact of the fallacy of the court’s reasoning here.