The Times editors really can pick their spots - now they oppose DNA collection in order to protect the privact rights of arrestees:
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear argument about whether it is constitutional for a state to collect DNA from people charged with violent crimes but not yet convicted. Last April, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that a state law authorizing such collection violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The Maryland law clearly contravenes the Fourth Amendment.
Clearly. So who is the Times fighting for? All of us, of course, but specifically, this thug:
The case involves the collection of DNA from Alonzo Jay King Jr. after his arrest on assault charges in 2009. His DNA profile matched evidence from a rape in 2003, and he was convicted of that rape.
The state did not, however, obtain a warrant to collect his DNA, nor did it establish that it had probable cause to think that his DNA would link him either to the assault or the rape. It did not even meet the lowest threshold for some searches, by establishing that it had a reasonable basis for taking his DNA, or showing that the DNA evidence would disappear unless it was collected.
Maryland argues that collecting and analyzing DNA is like fingerprinting. But the purpose of fingerprinting is to identify someone who has been arrested. Maryland was using DNA for investigative purposes, not identification, and doing so without legal justification.
The fingerprinting point-counterpoint is ludicrous (and discussed here in the context of a similar California case). DNA is a prefectly plausible identification tool and the police routinely run new fingerprints through databases in order to solve crimes. Put it this way - if, after booking Mr. King, the police had run his fingerprints through a database and found a match to a knife found at the scene of an unsolved murder, would the Times be squawking?
And yes, these are the same Times editors that won't rest until we have a national gun registry, so their concern for our privacy is a very sometime thing.
Yes, we could run our criminal justice system Times-style. The result will be fewer rape cases solved and more of the wrongfully-convicted languishing in jail, but the privacy rights of those arrested (but not yet convicted!) of violent crimes will have been upheld. Do we all see a brighter tomorrow?
Here are two papers discussing the issues. DNA does contain more information than fingerprints so there is a possibility of a loss of medical privacy, whoch could be mitigated with appropriate safeguards. If this Big Brother privacy concern from the same people screaming for National Health seems irreconciliable, well, you aren't smart enough to be a Lib either.