Ruling

06.03.13

Court: Swab DNA for Arrests

Scalia warns genetic records will stay in database.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that police can take DNA samples for people arrested for “serious crimes,” meaning a person’s DNA will forever be in the system, whether he or she is guilty or innocent. Justice Samuel Alito called the decision “the most important criminal-procedure case that this court has heard in decades,” and the 5-4 decision caused some unusual alignments: Justice Antonin Scalia joined with the three liberal members dissenting. Scalia wrote an angry dissent for himself, saying the decision violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unwarranted search and seizure. “This will solve extra crime, to be sure,” Scalia wrote. “But so will taking your DNA whenever you fly on an airplane.” A suspected rapist in Maryland had been arrested on an assault charge when police took his DNA, linking him back to a 2003 rape. A Maryland Court of Appeals threw out the case, but the Supreme Court now upheld the conviction.