Tennessee prides itself on being one of the most conservative states in the United States, a place where love of freedom and respect for the U.S. Constitution is held above all else.
In actual fact, the state of Tennessee holds the U.S. Constitution and specifically the 4th Amendment, a part of the Bill of Rights, in open contempt. Among the many rights the state holds in contempt is the presumption of innocence and the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. That fact became evident this Labor Day weekend 2013 when the state of Tennessee enforced blanket sweeps for alcohol-impaired driving. As if the dragnet sweeping of all citizens was not enough, the state compounded that abomination against the rights of its citizens by enforcing an additional step, one that forced every citizen–with no right of refusal–to give blood at the whim of its police officers.
There are two ways to view this. Either every single citizen will be stopped and checked for driving under the influence–which is itself an abomination against the Constitution of the United States, or Tennessee’s finest will use their discretion to decide who and who should not be stopped and forced to give a blood sample, with no right of refusal. Now, either alternative is heinous. Yet, if the State Troopers of Tennessee have the discretion to pick and choose who they stop–who do you think they are going to pick? Will it be white citizens or citizens of color? Will it be Tennesseans who have the misfortune to be DWB? [Driving While Black] or perhaps citizens who are AIUPC [Assumed Illegal Until Proven Citizens]. Anytime a system such as this is set up, giving the police the choice to stop who they want and force that person to give blood, it brings us closer to a police state. What if the citizen being stopped is a member of the TH&BDF, which is the Tennessee Hemophilia and Bleeding Disorders Foundation? Poking the arm of a person with Hemophilia to draw blood can be a life threatening situation, entirely aside from the implicit invasion of privacy and forced removal of bodily fluids. What becomes of the blood samples after the blood is drawn? On June 3, 2013 in Maryland v. King [12-207], the United States Supreme Court in a 5-to-4 split decision permitted police nationwide to legally take a DNA sample from people they had arrested without a warrant or even a conviction, upholding a Tennessee law that requires local law enforcement to collect DNA samples from persons only accused of committing a violent crime. That DNA sample could then be entered into a national database. The Supreme Court ruling applied the gate keeping at the collection point–requiring the citizen to have been accused of a committing a violent crime. However, this no-refusal dragnet by the state of Tennessee bypasses that gate by already collecting a blood sample. The Justices who upheld the DNA-swab ruling stipulated that an arrest “supported by probable cause” was justification enough for the application of a DNA test. So, it seems clearly apparent that this Tennessee law could turn a no-refusal into a nationwide peril for any citizen foolish enough to assume they could even drive to church on Sunday, as the bar has been set so low for alleged “probable cause”. Delving into scientific analysis, the majority opinion observed:
The current standard for forensic DNA testing relies on an analysis of chromosomes located within the nucleus of all human cells. “The DNA material in chromosomes is composed of ‘coding’ and ‘noncoding’ regions. […] Non-protein-coding regions … are not related directly to making proteins, [and] have been referred to as ‘junk’ DNA. The adjective “junk” may mislead the layperson, for in fact this is the DNA region used with near certainty [emphasis added] to identify a person. (US Supreme Court, 12-207, majority opinion, page 7).
So, a person of color whose looks the Tennessee trooper doesn’t like could wind up accused of some previous crime based on the “near certainty” of these no-refusal blood tests. Attempting to backfill this obvious breach of the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, the majority opinion goes on to say:
To say that the Fourth Amendment applies here is the beginning point, not the end of the analysis. ?[T]he Fourth Amendment’s proper function is to constrain, not against all intrusions as such, but against intrusions which are?not justified in the circumstances, or which are made in an improper manner.? Schmerber, supra, at 768. ?As the text of the Fourth Amendment indicates, the ultimate measure of the constitutionality of a governmental search is ?reasonableness.?? (US Supreme Court, 12-207, majority opinion, page 8).
The majority opinion relies on a reasonableness in the administration of the search that is explicitly omitted in Tennessee this Labor Day weekend, and as such shows the folly of enabling free privacy-invading, illegal-search-enabling behavior by the police in any state, especially one such as Tennessee in the Deep South, a state with a track record of racial discrimination. The scathing dissent to the 5-to-4 ruling was written by that well-known liberal Justice, Antonin J. Scalia, and joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan. That well-known, criminal-codding Justice Scalia wrote:
The Fourth Amendment forbids searching a person for?evidence of a crime when there is no basis for believing the person is guilty of the crime or is in possession of incriminating evidence. That prohibition is categorical and without exception; it lies at the very heart of the Fourth?Amendment. Whenever this Court has allowed a suspicionless search, it has insisted upon a justifying motiveapart from the investigation of crime.?It is obvious that no such noninvestigative motive exists?in this case. The Court’s assertion that DNA is being taken, not to solve crimes, but to identify those in the State’s custody, taxes the credulity of the credulous.” (US Supreme Court, 12-207, dissent, page 1).
This no-refusal requirement has been the law of the land in Tennessee ever since the enactment of a January 1st, 2012 Tennessee law that denied the citizens of the state the right to refuse to have a needle jammed in their arm and their blood taken against their will. Before then, citizens could refuse but only at the consequence of getting their license suspended. Now, the unchecked police powers in Tennessee will not accept even that limitation. Compounded with the June 3rd, 2013 Supreme Court ruling, the chute is open straight to a DNA test. Here is the newscast that reports on this practice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=wTA5bgp77yU This law permits the police to take blood from every driver on the road, without the choice to refuse, even for hemophiliacs. The New York Police Department has recently taken heat for blanket stop-and-frisk dragnets. Compared to the stop-and-bleed dragnets in Tennessee, New York looks like the land of the free.
Edited/Published by: SB