I was on Forum a week ago with Michael Risher of the ACLU and Michael Rumsford of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, discussing the ACLU’s challenge to California’s Prop 69.
Under Prop 69, as of January 1 of this year, police are required to obtain DNA samples for all individuals arrested for any felony in the state of California. The ACLU’s suit challenges the law on Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment grounds.
One of Mr. Rushford’s arguments is that the ACLU’s concerns are off-base because we are not far from a time when all Americans’ DNA will be stored in a national database. He has a point – hospitals now extract a DNA sample from all newborns for testing, and the information from those samples is maintained in a databank.
Mr. Rushford also argued that most Americans would be happy to submit their DNA to a national database because doing so would be good for medical research, as well as safety and security. I suggested that we could easily test Mr. Rushford’s theory – someone could propose a bill in Congress mandating that all Americans submit a DNA sample to be maintained indefinitely in a national DNA databank. How many Americans are prepared to hand over their DNA to the federal government?
Here’s a link to the archive: http://www.kqed.org/epArchive/R910130900.