DNA high court ruling applauded, criticized

Justices: DNA testing similar to fingerprints, mug shots


SAN ANTONIO – Opinions varied about Monday's high court ruling, much like its 5-4 vote upholding DNA testing without a warrant after an arrest.

"If that's what needed to keep everybody  safe, to make sure we're capturing suspects in a timely fashion before additional harm is done, I'm for it," said San Antonian James Franco upon learning of the court's ruling.

Despite assurances by supporters that the DNA findings would be for law enforcement purposes only, Franco's wife, Emily, said, "Hopefully, they will use it for its intended purpose, but if not shame on them."

Both she and her husband agreed checks and balances are needed to guard against privacy violations.

Yet civil rights attorney Rolando Rios said unlike previous use of DNA testing during arrests, "If you're just being questioned for suspicion, they can also require you to do a swab test."

Rios said that could lead to "fishing expeditions" that would involve searching other cases for the same DNA.

However, the majority opinion wrote, "Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee's DNA is like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment."

Yet concerns about unlawful search and seizure are why court observers said Justice Antonin Scalia sided with the liberals on the court by voting in the minority.

In his dissent, Scalia called the ruling a "terrifying principle" that could affect the innocent.

However, law enforcement officials are said to agree genetic testing is proven and reliable, especially in solving cold cases.

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.