DNA Collection of Arrested Persons Deemed Unconstitutional in California

It’s about time some good news came from that hellhole known as California. A California appeals court has ruled that collecting the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of an arrested person is not constitutional:

A California appeals court is striking down a voter-approved measure requiring every adult arrested on a felony charge to submit a DNA sample.

The 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said Proposition 69 amounted to unconstitutional, warrantless searches of arrestees. More than 1.6 million samples have been taken following the law’s 2009 implementation.

“What the DNA Act authorizes is the warrantless and suspicionless search of individuals, before a judicial determination of probable cause to believe they have committed a crime, for evidence of crime unrelated to that for which they have been arrested,” (.pdf) the court wrote. “The United States Supreme Court has never permitted suspicionless searches aimed at uncovering evidence of crime outside the context of convicted offenders.”

I don’t believe this ruling eliminates the ability of law enforcement to collect DNA but it at least establishes another step in requiring judicial review before the collection is performed. It’s also nice to see the court got it in this case. No, they really got it:

California argued that DNA evidence is an effective crime-solving tool. The court, ruling 3–0, found that argument immaterial.

“But even if DNA testing of arrestees was demonstrably valuable to law enforcement, the effectiveness of a crime fighting technology does not render it constitutional,” the court wrote.

Whether something is effective at assisting law enforcement is completely irrelevant if it’s infringing on the rights of individuals.