Pivotal DNA Privacy Case Gets Supreme Court Hearing

David Kravets reports:

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to review a major genetic-privacy case on whether authorities may take DNA samples from anybody arrested for serious crimes.

The case has wide-ranging implications, because at least 21 states and the federal government have regulations requiring suspects to give a DNA sample upon arrest. In all the states with such laws, DNA saliva samples are cataloged in state and federal crime-fighting databases.

Without comment, the justices opted to take on an April decision (.pdf) from Maryland’s top court, which said it was a breach of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure to take, without warrants, DNA samples from suspects who have not been convicted.

Read more on ThreatLevel.

The case is Maryland v. King, and you can find the relevant history and court filings on SCOTUSblog. Chief Roberts’ opinion in lifting the stay on the practice makes me think that the full court may uphold Maryland’s practice, which I don’t endorse. Maybe the full court could come up with an acceptable compromise – that DNA collected without a warrant cannot be used for any other investigation and must be destroyed if there is no conviction.  But somehow, I have the uneasy feeling that they won’t do that, either.

The court will hear the case during this term.

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