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Supreme court takes a little more

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Published on: Thursday, June 06, 2013

By Brian J. Karem

In a 5-4 decision on Monday the Supreme Court ruled police may take D.NA samples from anyone arrested for “serious” crimes.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority said taking a cheek swab of an arrestee is not unlike fingerprinting and photographing, “ a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”

Justice Antonin Scalia summarized his dissent in the minority opinion; “Make no mistake about it: because of today’s decision, your D.N.A can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason,” he said.

So much for the “serious” nature of the arrest; Scalia says the door is open to yank your D.N.A from you for “whatever reason.”

The Supreme Court decision came from a 2009 Maryland case in which police arrested a man and charged him with assault in Wicomico County.

There have been several media releases circulating following this decision, including one from a Christian group that wrote telling me, “If you’re not guilty of anything then you don’t have anything to worry about.”

I’ll get to that point in a second, but I first must point out the Christian group responsible for offering an opinion on this matter relied on “scientific fact” to justify the gathering of D.N.A. evidence and said it was “reliable” and “unquestionable.”

Funny how this group is always writing me telling me how flawed science is when it comes to other matters, but how conveniently correct science is when it aligns with their particular view of the world.

About the greater point to be made; make no mistake about it, Scalia and those who joined in the dissenting opinion are correct – your body is going to be used against you whether you want it to or not.

The state owns your body and every part of it. The state can take your life without due process – just take a look at the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombing. An entire city was locked down while police hunted and killed a man and arrested his brother. There was no “due process” involved. The state hunted and killed a suspected felon – not a convicted felon.

Now the state can dissect you and put you in a database and keep it around conceivably forever. You may never be convicted of anything, but if the state wants your D.N.A. it will get it and hold onto it.

The state can also hold on to every ticket you’ve ever received. It can put certain information it obtains from license plate readers into indefinite storage – able to be retrieved for eternity. Through your cell phone the state can track you through your phone’s G.P.S and now with the latest nod from the Supreme Court it can take your very essence – your individuality – and use it against you for the rest of your life.

This Supreme Court ruling doesn’t affect convicted criminals – it affects anyone arrested and merely “suspected” of a crime – of course the suspicion has to carry with it an arrest. Still, how many innocent people are wrongly accused and arrested?

Doesn’t matter any more does it?

The presumption of innocence until proven guilty has all but evaporated and the Supreme Court just put a nice nail through the coffin of innocence.

Turns out if you’re not guilty of something you do indeed have a lot to worry about. You can be in a database for the rest of your life. You can be tainted by accusations even if you’re guilty of nothing.

You can be labeled, categorized, inspected, detected, rejected and infected to paraphrase Arlo Guthrie and you can do nothing about it.

It is the height of madness to presume this folly will end here. Body scans, brain wave patterns, tissue samples – all of it – may soon be available to law enforcement if they find a need for it.

With taking fingerprints, one can argue they are merely being used to identify a person – and hence they should be allowed. But there is a true logical fallacy in allowing D.N.A. It isn’t used as a primary means of identification – it is used as evidence against you. It violates the Fourth Amendment and therefore should be relegated to being gathered after a conviction – not before.

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