Reason Writers Around Town: Radley Balko on Obama and DNA Testing at The Daily Beast


The president who championed defendants' right to DNA evidence as a senator in Illinois last week let his Justice Department oppose a federal right to the same testing at the Supreme Court. Over at The Daily Beast, Reason Senior Editor Radley Balko offers the most likely, if unsatisfactory, explanation.

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  1. Sure, but imagine how bad thing would have been if that other guy got elected...

  2. Besides Alaska, what are the other five states that don't guarantee post conviction DNA testing?

  3. Radley (Radovan?) pciks and picks as though he were picking his nose. Get a fucking real job, Rad.

  4. At first I thought this would be about demanding DNA from the president to prove that he is constitutionally fit to serve.

    Glad those crazy rumors are over.

  5. ...most likely, if unsatisfactory, explanation.

    Indeed. It's still maddening that the emphasis seems to be on tradition, rather than getting at the actual truth.

  6. The truth will set you free. Or get you locked up. Either way, at least we'll know the truth.

  7. First sentence, second page:
    "Obama is no federalist."

    Can anyone read a statement like that and not at least smile at the ridiculousness of it?

  8. From the last page of the article:

    If you happen to be someone wrongly incarcerated in one of the six states that don't guarantee post-conviction DNA testing, hoping for access to the evidence that could set you free, it must be pretty hard to swallow the idea that reverence for some procedural tradition may have prompted the "hope and change" president to argue you have no right to prove your innocence.

    The only tradition involved here is the one that holds that government assholes are never wrong and will do most anything to keep from being shown to be wrong - including keeping possibly innocent people locked up (or worse.) As for "hope and change" - you all didn't really fall for that horseshit, did you?

  9. I don't think Obama's done wrangling the DoJ yet. He's been slowly but surely changing policies since he got in office, but I don't think anyone there is in a hurry to act the way they may think he wants them to act if he hasn't got to a particular subject. That's of course no excuse for letting this guy fall through the cracks, and it's somewhere between sad and alarming that this was the Bush administration's policy. DNA is the one piece of evidence that is completely irrefutable, and in the case of rape, instantly exonerating. Denying access to it clearly violates equal protection and due process rights. The only justification one can come up with here is it's more important to these guys to support state convictions, even if they are in error, which is monstrous. To let an innocent man die because you refuse to admit you *might* have been wrong isn't just negligence, it's murder.

  10. Great article Mr. Balko.

  11. If you're really doing this over "tradition" can you at least send over the dumbest guy in that office to argue it? I'm sure there's at least one random Liberty University guy still there who doesn't believe in DNA. Send him, and give him lots of sugar beforehand.

  12. TofuSushi
    The "rumors" aren't over. They've just been completely ignored by the media and dismissed by all the judges. Of course ordinary citizens do not have the right to question their government! What type of crazy idea is that!

    The government doesn't care about truth. It doesn't care about equality. It certainly doesn't give a fuck about your rights.

  13. It isn't about truth anymore. It is about procedure.

  14. "It isn't about truth anymore. It is about procedure."

    since when has our court system been about seeking TRUTH? the law IS about procedure.

    look at the role of defense attorneys. defense attorneys are mandated by law to zealously advocate for their clients, to include trying to get an acquittal even if they suspect, or heck even if they KNOW their clients are guilty as fuck.

    i support zealous advocacy and a oppositional system, but don't pretend for a second that the courts are about truth OVER procedure.

    the law IS about procedure.

    of course, i believe that there SHOULD be a right to DNA evidence for defendants. that's a given.

  15. REAL DNA evidence is irrefutable. What we get out of modern crime labs? Not so much.

    Do we even trust their opinions or ability to give good neutral facts?

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