The Maryland v. King case represents an extremely controversial issue, which is closely linked not only to legal contradictions but also to ethical dilemmas. Two significant values are at stake, and the interpretation of the law may be significantly subjective. The primary conflict is between privacy provided by the constitutional rights and the legal framework required to identify arrestees. The ambiguity of the case may be reaffirmed by the court’s decisions. Three courts provided opposing decisions, and even in the Supreme Court, the judges divided almost equally. The law is maintained not only through legal frameworks and laws but also through relevant analogies, arguments, and common sense. A considerable contradiction may be discovered between constitutional laws and the Maryland DNA Collection Act. Therefore, it may be necessary to take as many factors and interested parties into account as possible.
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Maryland v. King
The Supreme Court 569 U.S. 435, 133 S. Ct. 1958
Facts of the case
According to the Maryland DNA Collection Act, DNA samples should be collected and analyzed in order to identify arrestees. It is a part of the legitimate working routine needed to enforce the law. King was arrested for threatening people with a gun and charged with a second-degree assault. As a part of the above-mentioned routine, King’s DNA was collected. The DNA sample was analyzed and compared to existing DNA records in the database. It was found to match the DNA related to an unsolved case. The matching DNA was previously taken from a rape victim. King was accused of rape. The Maryland DNA Collection Act was found to be unconstitutional and violating the Fourth Amendment by the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Therefore, DNA collection was determined to be illegitimate, and rape charges were dropped.
Does the Maryland DNA Collection Act violate the Fourth Amendment and constitutional rights?
The Maryland DNA Collection Act was determined not to violate the Fourth Amendment and to be legitimate.
The primary issue regarding the case was to determine if the collection of DNA provides personal information, which is sufficient to violate the Fourth Amendment. The collection of DNA was considered to be similar to other identification methods such as photographing and fingerprinting. Therefore it was found to be a legitimate method of identification needed for law enforcement. The defendant also claimed that such identification methods violated his privacy rights and the Fourth Amendment. However, the intrusion of a cheek swab required to collect DNA was found to be appropriate in terms of arrestee identification, according to the Maryland DNA Collection Act. In addition, the Maryland DNA Collection Act was found to be legitimate, and the decision of the Court of Appeals of Maryland was reversed by the Supreme Court.
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According to Antonin Scalia “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.”