Something astonishing happened Monday: Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court’s longest-serving member and one of its most conservative justices, joined three liberal justices in a sharply worded dissent arguing for the rights of criminal suspects.
The court decided, 5-4, that the Constitution permits the police to swab the cheeks of those arrested of serious crimes, and then do DNA tests on the saliva samples to see if the suspects are associated with other crimes. The closeness of the vote, and the unusual coalitions on either side, suggest that the matter is far from settled. Justice Samuel Alito, who was part of the majority, rightly called Maryland v. King, “perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this Court has heard in decades.”
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