Forced DNA extraction of suspects, without a warrant, fully approved by federal court

by J. D. Heyes, NaturalNews.com  |  published on June 26, 2012

For a state that claims to be the nation’s most enlightened defender of civil rights, California’s regular dismissal of even the most basic constitutional protections is an exercise in hypocrisy — at a minimum — and in ideology over rule of law in the worst case.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation’s most liberal, ruled recently that California cops can continue collecting DNA samples to put in a national database from everyone they arrest on a felony, even before that suspect has been proven guilty in a court of law and, worse, without a warrant or court order directing them to be collected.

“DNA analysis is an extraordinarily effective tool for law enforcement to identify arrestees, solve past crimes, and exonerate innocent suspects,” U.S. District Judge Milan Smith wrote for the three-judge majority. Moreover, the court said the government had a more compelling interest in collecting the genetic information than yet-to-be-convicted suspects did in protecting their privacy, let alone their right to assert they’re innocent until proven guilty.

Guilty until proven innocent?

The case stems from a 2009 lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of four California residents — who had been arrested but not convicted — against the officials who operate the state’s DNA collection system, Reuters reported. The suit asked a federal district court to bar the state from collecting the sample on anyone who was not convicted, but the lower court refused. The higher court upheld that ruling.

According to the law, anyone not convicted can request to have their sample removed from the national database, but that’s the same as suspects having to prove they are innocent first, a concept completely at odds with our justice system, which presumes innocence until proven guilty.

“The majority allows the government to treat arrestees, who are presumed innocent, as if they’ve been convicted of some sort of crime,” said Michael Risher, the ACLU attorney who represented the plaintiffs. He said he would seek a review of the ruling by the full nine-member appeals panel.

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