On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that will decide whether cops should be allowed to force people they arrest to give a DNA sample. Since the early 1990s, 26 states have passed laws requiring DNA to be collected upon arrest for a serious offense, and loaded into a national database, where it can help match offenders to unsolved crimes. This is the first time the Supreme Court has reviewed this practice, and the case promises to produce one of the most significant Fourth Amendment rulings in years.
…Civil-liberties advocates say that the utility of DNA collection doesn’t mitigate the unconstitutionality of swiping genetic information without permission. “Police justify their collection of DNA as being helpful in efforts to solve and prevent crime,” says Steven Benjamin, president of the National Association of Criminal Justice Lawyers. “The problem is that just because a technique permits more effective police work, it doesn’t absolve the constitutional problems. Taking DNA from mere arrestees is undeniably absolutely unconstitutional.”