Supreme Court says taking your DNA after arrest is legal

“Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
~ Justice Anthony Kennedy (writing for the Supreme Court’s five-justice majority)

SCOTUS says it's OK to take your DNA without a warrant

Image: Can Stock Photo

It appears that the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution took a hit today in a 5-4 decision. In this case, politics and/or interpretation of the law made for strange bedfellows; conservative Justice Scalia, who is a staunch supporter of Fourth Amendment protections, sided with liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “The Fourth Amendment has long been understood to mean that the police cannot search for evidence of a crime – and all nine justices agreed that DNA testing is a search – without individualized suspicion.” Today’s decision modifies that understand.

Welcome to a new world of police powers in the United States. The justices have ruled that police are allowed to take DNA, without a warrant, from people they arrest — and they equate taking DNA cheek swabs to other procedures such as fingerprinting.

What are your thoughts? Is that too broad an interpretation? What about the ramifications, such as DNA databases? What does this mean to privacy and civil liberties?

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