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Why No NRA-Style Lobby to Fight Fourth Amendment DNA Overreach? Money.

Mr. Kallis quotes Justice Scalia's excellent dissent from the privacy-trashing majority in Maryland v. King:

Today's judgment will, to be sure, have the beneficial effect of solving more crimes; then again, so would the taking of DNA samples from anyone who flies on an airplane (surely the Transportation Security Administration needs to know the "identity" of the flying public), applies for a driver's license, or attends a public school. Perhaps the construction of such a genetic panopticon is wise. But I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection [Justice Antonin Scalia, dissenting from Maryland v. King, U.S. Supreme Court, 2013.06.03].

Kallis phrases his own disgust thus:

Suffice it to say, this decision needs to be overturned as quickly as possible. I still marvel at the fact that people scream bloody murder at any perceived abridgment of Second Amendment protections but are silent at real abridgments of Fourth Amendment rights [Leo Kallis, "Quotations Of The Day: Justice Scalia's Dissent In Maryland v King," The Displaced Plainsman, 2013.06.04].

We have the NRA to whip politicians into Second Amendment absolutism; why don't we have an N-DNA-A to scare politicans into defending our security in our persons against searches without probable cause?

Remember, the NRA doesn't exist to protect the Constitution; it exists to protect and expand the profit margins of gun makers. DNA isn't a consumer product; it's a natural substance that we all have. Thus, there's no big corporate money to be had in waging the Fourth Amendment fight.

The NRA drives politicians like Kristi Noem to oppose background checks that would submit information about public purchases of dangerous property to a national database in order to make it easier to investigate and prosecute crimes. But I'm not hearing Noem, Thune, or any other such NRA-beholden South Dakota Republican protest seizing DNA for a similar database and similar purpose. Attorney General Marty Jackley and South Dakota's Republican Legislature agree with the majority of the Supreme Court that this pragmatic violation of the Fourth Amendment is hunky-dory.

Worth noting: while President Barack Obama has continued the Patriot Act-era abuse of civil liberties with warrantless wiretaps and TSA scans, both of his Supreme Court nominees, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, got the Fourth Amendment right, joining Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in dissent.


  1. Kal Lis 2013.06.05

    Mr.? That's far more formality than is deserved.

    Thanks for pointing out the other dissenters. I had planned to but hit submit too quickly. I was worried about Sotomayor when she was appointed, but she came through on this one.

    I also thought the gender dynamic was interesting. I wonder if women's experiences give them a better insight about the need to protect citizens from power projection.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.06.05

    Women with better insight on protecting citizens from power projection? Wow—that is one of the better arguments I've heard for electing a woman President.

    Hit submit too quickly? Not to worry: we all work together to tell the story. :-)

  3. Douglas Wiken 2013.06.05

    I have mixed feelings about this. We accept finger prints and other so-called scientific tests that really aren't scientific and can be very wrong.

    DNA tests unless rigged by corrupt labs or corrupt cops planting it are probably very reliable.

    What is troubling is the kind of random collection that results when DNA is taken for other purposes and processes and then that data gets mixed into crime data bases.

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