Police and prosecutors gained a new weapon in their criminal investigation arsenal this year after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld legislation in Maryland permitting officers to take a cheek swab sample while booking a suspect for a crime. The ruling has serious consequences for criminal defendants, especially suspects who are arrested but cleared for one crime, but implicated by genetic testing in a separate crime.
You can read the entire opinion here in Maryland v. King.
The majority opinion, written by Justice Roberts, affirmed, “’taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee's DNA is — like fingerprinting and photographing — a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.’” There are equally compelling arguments against such an egregious invasion of an individuals’ privacy:
Justice Scalia wrote the dissenting opinion, stating, “Make no mistake about it: 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.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Michael Risher argued the issue in a lower court, stating, “Innocent Americans should not have their genetic blueprints put in a gigantic government database.”
Arrest and booking procedures in California allow officers to take DNA swabs when a suspect is arrested in connection with a felony crime.