Associational Privacy, the Presumption of Innocence, and 'Corruption of Blood' as Constitutional Metaphors in the Debate on 'Familial Searching'

12 Nov 2012

This essay analyzes three constitutional claims about the emerging practice of trawling DNA databases for “near misses” to crime-scene samples that might reflect the fact that the DNA came from a first-degree relative of the nearly matching (but excluded) individual. These claims are that this type of “outer-directed” trawling (which casts suspicion on individual outside the database) is an infringement of constitutionally protected familial privacy, an affront to the presumption of innocence, and an unconstitutional “corruption of blood.” Upon inspection, the relevant constitutional provisions lend no more than metaphorical support to these objections to “familial searching.”