August 2, 2010
Forcing people to provide a DNA sample without any judicial oversight, just because a single police officer has arrested them, violates the Constitution. That’s why California’s law mandating that DNA samples be taken from all felony arrestees is facing a legal challenge from the ACLU of Northern California (ACLU-NC).
At issue is Proposition 69, a voter-enacted law which mandates that anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony in California has to hand over a DNA sample, regardless of whether or not they are ever charged or convicted. As a result, tens of thousands of innocent Californians will be subject to a lifetime of genetic surveillance because a single police officer suspected them of a crime.
ACLU-NC filed suit in federal court last year seeking to stop this invasive law that violates the Fourth Amendment. Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the ACLU’s appeal of a lower court’s denial of a request for a preliminary injunction to halt the law while the suit continues. The appeals court hearing on July 13 showed that the court takes the privacy concerns and other constitutional issues in this case very seriously. The court clearly recognized the importance of the case, questioning both sides closely and extending the time allotted for oral argument.