In June of 2013, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Maryland vs. King dealt a potentially fatal blow to the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court’s decision held that when a suspect is arrested for a serious offense and is brought to the police station for booking that a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is allowable. The decision argued that the collection of DNA is comparable to fingerprinting and photographing. The ruling did not specify what was meant by “serious” crimes, but ruled the confiscation of DNA as being reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.
The Fourth Amendment was not written to make it easier for the State to investigate crimes, but instead was included in the Bill of Rights to protect innocent individuals from unreasonable searches. Colonial Americans experienced the intrusive tactics utilized by British officers under the King’s rule and the Fourth Amendment sought to protect citizens against intrusive, unreasonable searches without just cause.
The individuals that face the biggest risk as a result of the court’s decision are those that have been falsely implicated in a crime. Cops have nothing to lose by adding the DNA of an innocent man to the national database and everything to gain. Allowing police to collect the DNA of those arrested for “serious” crimes does not only create a slippery slope, it erects a 100 ft tall waterslide for our liberties to tumble into the abiss of tyranny.
So far twenty-eight states collect DNA samples of those charged with felonies. According to utahpoliticalcapitol.com, the state legislator in Utah is advancing legislation to allow law enforcement officers to take DNA samples from suspects at the time of booking for any felony offense. Currently, Utah takes DNA from a prisoner after they have been convicted of a felony. Amendment HB 212 is written in a way that would allow the State to forcibly take DNA from anyone booked for a felony offense all the way back to January 1, 2011. The amendment also allows the DNA of minors over the age of 14 to be confiscated and filed in a national database.
The House voted on Tuesday to approve the bill 43-28. The measure will advance to the Senate, where hopefully it will face resistance.