San Jose Mercury News — Armed with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, a federal appeals court on Monday will revisit a controversial legal challenge to California's law allowing collection of DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony.
Whether the Supreme Court's ruling on Maryland's similar _ though narrower _ DNA collection law shoots down an ongoing legal attack on California's 4-year-old statute will be the question before a special 11-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel.
In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Maryland's law, likening collection of DNA samples to fingerprinting suspects booked into police custody.
Civil liberties advocates argue that California's law is a much greater threat to privacy rights because it permits DNA sample collection and preservation from arrested suspects even if they are never charged with a crime. Maryland's law permits DNA collection only from those charged with a serious felony, and after a judge finds probable cause they've committed the crime.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris says the differences between the California and Maryland laws are "not constitutionally significant" and has urged the 9th Circuit to uphold the law. The Obama administration has backed California's defense of the law in the appeal, stressing the national importance of DNA collection laws that 28 states have enacted.
Before the Supreme Court ruling, the 9th Circuit last year appeared inclined to invalidate California's law, expressing concerns about DNA being collected from individuals who may never be charged in court with a crime. But legal experts say the Supreme Court's ruling in the Maryland case could make it tough for the 9th Circuit to overturn the California law. continue reading...