By Robert Barnes,
The Supreme Court debated Tuesday whether Maryland’s decision to collect DNA samples from people arrested for serious crimes represents an unconstitutional invasion of privacy or a crime-solving breakthrough with the potential to be the “fingerprinting of the 21st century.”
Either way, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said, the case is “perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard in decades.”
At issue are laws in 29 states and on the federal level that allow some version of DNA collections. And the oral argument highlighted the difficulty the court sometimes has in squaring emerging or potential technological advances with centuries-old constitutional protections.
“How can I base a decision today on what you tell me is going to happen in two years?” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked Maryland Chief Deputy Attorney General Katherine Winfree. “Don’t I have to base a decision on what we have today?”
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