Criminal Procedure Case Comment

License, Registration, Cheek Swab: DNA Testing and the Divided Court

Vol. 127 No. 1 Midway through the oral argument in Maryland v. King, Justice Alito spontaneously interjected: “[B]y the way, I think this is perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this Court has heard in decades.” The juxtaposition between the breeziness of his comment and the solemnity of its content befit the case, which is best characterized as a sleeper in a Term overshadowed by monumental rulings on gay marriage, voting rights, and affirmative action. What looked on its face like just another Fourth Amendment dispute – with civil libertarians on one side and law enforcement on the other – garnered no special attention. But King is no ordinary Fourth Amendment case.