A federal appeals court has ruled that police can collect DNA evidence from nonviolent drug offenders without violating their privacy rights.
The two-to-one decision by a panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco comes in the case of a drug offender who refused to give a DNA sample after his release from prison.
In the majority opinion, Judge Margaret McKeown says the government has significant interests, including solving past crimes, that outweigh the privacy interests of convicted felons.
Dissenting judge Betty Fletcher calls the decision an "erosion of the Fourth Amendment" ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.
A federal law requiring that violent felons give DNA samples to be kept in a national law-enforcement database was extended to all felons in 2004.