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Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2012

Floor Speech

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Location: Unknown

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Mr. CONYERS. Thank you, Ranking Member Scott.

This is an unusual circumstance in which the Fourth Amendment, which protects individual privacy from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, has hardly been mentioned. Another thing that is curious about this measure is that there hasn't been a hearing on the bill, not a single hearing. Now, I suppose we should just skip over that. Oh, by the way, the Supreme Court of the United States has a case which is testing the issue of the appropriateness of collecting the DNA of arrestees, which will soon reasonably be decided.

As one who supports the goals of this legislation--its objectives to apprehend offenders and provide relief to victims--it seems like, in our haste, we've tossed procedure into the waste basket. I just can't understand why we can't examine the constitutionality of the practice of DNA in an appropriate manner, and that's what Maryland v. King would do. I know it's being used in other places, but I have never participated in legislation that attempts to become law while the matter is still in the Supreme Court, about to be decided. Maybe if I looked hard enough, we could find some cases in which that may have happened.

When you combine all of these unusual circumstances, as a former chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, I would urge that we follow the recommendations of our ranking member and have this matter brought before the committee in a more proper and orderly way. I hope that we can ensure the constitutionality of H.R. 6014 since that test is about to be submitted before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 6014, the ``Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2012,'' or ``Katie's Law.''

I want to begin by noting that I support the important goals of this legislation, which are to apprehend offenders and provide relief to victims.

But we must not allow our criminal justice system to circumvent the protections of the Constitution so that criminal offenders are caught at all costs.

It is critical that we adhere to the Constitution and consider any measure that possibly conflicts with it through a deliberate process.

Unfortunately, there has not been nearly enough process to ensure that H.R. 6014 is constitutional.

For example, there has neither been a single hearing on this bill, nor has the Judiciary Committee marked up this measure.

As many of you know, the constitutionality of collecting DNA from arrestees is an unresolved question under the Fourth Amendment, which protects individuals' privacy from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.

In fact, the constitutionality of the practice of DNA testing upon arrest is currently before the Supreme Court in Maryland v. King. We should at least wait until the Court decides this issue before we rush to pass this legislation.

I voted for Katie's law in the last Congress, and I support the goals of Katie's law, but right now is not the time to pass this measure.

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