Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz issued a strong rebuke of Monday’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision upholding a Maryland law that allows law enforcement to collect DNA samples from arrested suspects without a warrant.
“Today’s unfortunate U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Maryland v. King, by a vote of 5-4, expands government power, invades our liberty, and undermines our constitutional rights,” Cruz said in a Monday evening statement. “The Court held that the police can forcibly take DNA samples from people who have been arrested — but have not been tried or convicted — of a serious offense. So now the government can capture, without a search warrant, the most personal information about an individual, and use it to search vast databases for unrelated offenses.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion calling DNA swabbing a “legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment” and comparable to fingerprinting and photographing.
Kennedy was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito.
An unusual coalition of Justices Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor voted for a broader interpretation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Scalia, a noted conservative, wrote the dissent in which the liberals Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor.
“As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason,” Scalia wrote in his dissent and Cruz quoted in his statement.
Cruz, who clerked for Justice William Rehnquist, noted that all 50 states already collect the DNA of convicted felons, and that the “intrusion of liberty will matter only for those not convicted.”
“All of us should be alarmed by this significant step towards government as Big Brother. The excessive concentration of power in government is always inimical to liberty, and a national database of our DNA cannot be reconciled with the Fourth Amendment,” Cruz continued.