A Maryland law requires law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples upon the arrest of anyone for certain crimes, including burglary and murder. Based on collection of a DNA sample from King, the prosecutor charged and convicted him of rape committed in 2003. King, represented by the ACLU, sought a stay of the statute on the ground it violated KIng’ s right of privacy. The Maryland Court agreed, and the State sought cert. from the Supreme Court.
Citing a reversal of the 9th Circuit as precedent for granting cert. (New Motor Vehicle Bd. of Cal. v. Orrin W. Fox Co., 434 U.S. 145,(1977), Chief Justice Roberts, writing as the Circuit Judge, summarized both sides of the argument. He granted a stay of the Maryland court decision, citing relevant grounds for the Court’s jurisdiction and the likelihood of a reversal of the state court.
The 9th Circuit had previously upheld a California statute similar to the Maryland law. Unsurprisingly, the court granted a rehearing; Haskell v. Harris, 2012 WL 3038593 (C.A.9). Based on the Supreme Court order, the potential of a 9th Circuit reversal will probably be stayed pending disposition of the Maryland case. If not for this Order by the Chief Justice, the 9th Circuit decision would probably have been reversed by the usual judges.
Although this is allegedly a Fourth Amendment case, collecting a DNA sample is no more intrusive than taking a routine blood sample. The uncontradicted evidence establishes the value of DNA matches and far outweighs the argument of mistaken identity. What possible right of privacy is involved in this simple test so valuable to identifying persons who have committed crimes.