In a contentious 5 – to – 4 decision, the Supreme Court overruled the Maryland Court of Appeals, holding that police can take D.N.A. samples of persons arrested – but not convicted – of serious offenses. The Court did not define “serious,” and it is unclear whether it would apply to marijuana and other drug possession cases.
The case, Maryland v. King, is notable for the 5 – 4 split, with conservative justice Antonin Scalia siding with the liberals, and liberal justice Stephen Breyer joining the conservatives. Scalia, obviously displeased with the shaky reasoning of the majority, in a rare procedure, read his dissent aloud from the bench. Scalia told the packed chamber:
“Make no mistake about it: because of today’s decision, your D.N.A. can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason” Whether marijuana arrestees can expect to have their DNA taken following arrest will be tested in a later case. Stay tuned.
Categories: DNA testing