“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.” — Justice Scalia
The Supreme Court took a hearty swipe at the 4th Amendment, and thanks in large part to the so-called Conservatives on the court, our Bill of Rights may never look the same.
In the state of Maryland, the law allows the police to collect the DNA of those accused of certain violent crimes. In 2009 Alonzo King was arrested after being accused of just such a crime, and that arrest and the subsequent DNA swab led to his arrest and conviction of a 2003 rape which he’d not been previously implicated in.
Justice Kennedy, in his majority opinion, wrote that there is no difference between a DNA swab and fingerprinting and that the non-obtrusive cheek swab is minimally invasive and would result in the prosecution of more violent offenders.
Justice Scalia’s response: “Make no mistake about it,” he wrote. “As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason.”
No doubt many of you readers may be saying, “So what? This will get more crimes solved and maybe get some bad who otherwise might have gotten away.”
Justice Scalia in writing the minority dissent agrees with you:
“Today’s judgment will, to be sure, have the beneficial effect of solving more crimes. Then again, so would the taking of DNA samples from anyone who flies on an airplane (surely the Transportation Security Administration needs to know the ‘identity’ of the flying public), applies for a driver’s license, or attends a public school. Perhaps the construction of such a genetic panopticon is wise. But I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection.”
What we miss in taking this decision lightly is the fact that the government now has carte blanche authority to take and keep a sample of our DNA without any crime actually being committed.
With this ruling the Supreme Court has allowed states to pass laws that allow for your DNA to be collected if you are accused of a crime. Not arrested, not brought up on charges by a Grand Jury… if you are accused. Understand folks, your Fourth Amendment rights just took a huge hit. While we were watching Washington worry about gay marriage, our guns, and the IRS — the Supreme Court pulled an unconstitutional fast one on us.
The Fourth Amendment states:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Probable Cause is now — being accused of a crime. Just to make sure you understand how bad of a ruling this is, here is our President, the eminent Constitutional Law Professor himself, patting the Conservative majority on the back,
“It’s the right thing to do. This is where the national registry becomes so important.”
Justice Scalia was the only conservative on the court to stand up for our Constitutional rights today; shame on the others for bowing to the pressures of safety over liberty, and helping Obama continue to shred our Constitution – one right at a time.