For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Professor Lisa McElroy Discusses Supreme Court Decisions on Illinois NPR Affiliate

June 14, 2013

In an hour-long radio show on NPR affiliate Illinois Public Media, Professor Lisa McElroy discussed several significant decisions coming from the U.S. Supreme Court at the close of its term.

Among the decisions were two cases involving forth amendment search and seizures.  In one case the question before the court was whether police could use a DNA swab from the inside of someone's cheek not only as an identification measure, but to connect the arrested individual to previously committed crimes, McElroy said.

The court found that taking the DNA swab was not an unlawful search, McElroy said.  Scalia, however, who, in his scathing dissent, sided with liberal justices Justices Sotomayor, Ginsberg and Kagan, thought that the majority was distorting the issue, McElroy claimed.  By likening the swab to a mere fingerprint, Scalia argued that the majority diluted the fact that the swab was being used to go beyond mere identification to "search" for a connection with past crimes, McElroy recounted. 

In the other criminal procedure case, what McElroy referred to as "the dog sniffing case," the court found that the police cannot take dogs to the door of a person's home to sniff out narcotics without first obtaining a warrant.

McElroy did not find it surprising that the court's decision in the dog sniffing case was directly opposite to its decision in the DNA swab case.  "[The dog sniffing case] is about behavior," McElroy said, "it is about going into someone's home without a warrant."  As opposed to the DNA swab case, the court in the dog sniffing case is drawing the line and saying people have a higher expectation of privacy around their home that should be given heightened protections, she argued. 

The hour-long show also reviewed the court's gene patenting case, gay marriage cases, foreign surveillance case, as well as the expected decision on the University of Texas' affirmative action admissions procedure, of which McElroy claimed has the potential to unravel years of Supreme Court precedent that could affect a number of university admissions procedures.