Supreme Court Ruling On DNA “Wrong,” Says Dr. Cyril Wecht
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Every day citizens are arrested and booked on suspicion of committing a crime — and their fingerprints are taken with or without their consent.
Now in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court says police may take DNA samples, too, without a warrant.
“I think it is intrusive. I think it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment against improper search and seizure. I think it opens up the door,” Dr. Cyril Wecht told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Monday.
The doctor-lawyer-forensic pathologist says taking a person’s DNA without their consent is a Pandora’s box, especially when that DNA is stored in government data banks long after a person has charges dismissed or is found innocent.
Wecht says don’t believe government officials when they say, “We’re only doing it for identification. We’re not doing it to determine whether or not you have a predisposition for diabetes, hypertension, or so on. Nobody else is going to get this information to find out whether you should get this job.”
Wecht adds, “Once you’ve got that stuff there who is going to do the policing of it to make sure that that DNA information is not used for other purposes?”
In a scathing court dissent, conservative Justice Scalia — joined by three liberal Justices Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor — echo Wecht’s warning.
But many think DNA is just high-tech finger printing.
“Before you go to service they fingerprint you. It’s no big deal to me,” says Tom Colbert of Mt. Pleasant.
“You have to trust the police, the law enforcement people, to do their job correctly and give them a little bit of latitude to do it,” adds Dave McGowan of Highland Park.
But Wecht, once charged but never convicted of crimes, says DNA is different, especially when it happens to you.
“Big Daddy will know everything about you,” he said.