This week's ruling on police collection of DNA samples from arrested -- but not convicted -- people is another example of how the U.S. Supreme Court does not understand the Fourth Amendment, and how that ignorance is eroding of our civil liberties.
In its 5-4 ruling in King v. Maryland, the Court fails to uphold the Bill of Rights declaration that we are free of unreasonable search of seizure by giving law enforcement free rein to DNA swab anyone arrested for a serious crime and to keep that DNA even if that person is never tried in court or found guilty.
The ruling goes against decades of precedent in which the justices have ruled that police must have reasonable suspicion to search property or person, often requiring them to get a warrant. The argument that DNA is the same as a fingerprint is laughable. DNA is the genetic code to our bodies -- our most personal and private of information.
And, from a purely practical perspective, such massive collection of DNA does little to further law enforcement or justice when it increases costs and creates backlogs even as DNA collected in cases where reasonable suspicion exists waits to be tested.
Thankfully, Montana Code prevents these kinds of fishing expeditions. Here DNA can only be collected post-conviction in felony cases or with a search warrant.
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has indicated that he might want to revisit those limitations in light of the Supreme Court ruling.
Rest assured, the ACLU of Montana will fight any effort to erode your Fourth Amendment rights by allowing expanded DNA collection in Montana.