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re: supreme court rejects inmates’ rights to dna

June 24, 2009

I submitted an edited version of my last post, “supreme court rejects inmates’ rights to dna,” to the Oregonian editorial board, and it’s been selected along with one other submission as the Wednesday offering for a new feature on their online opinion page:

Jason, Richard:
I’ve chosen your letters on the recent Supreme Court DNA ruling as the Wednesday offering for a new feature on our online opinion page at

Point-Counterpoint offers two opposing viewpoints on the same subject.

Your letters are scheduled to post at 9 a.m. 6/24. Readers may comment on your thoughts and you are welcome to respond to them and to each other.

Thanks very much for contributing to our community’s conversation.

All best,

Helen Shum
Public Access Editor
The Oregonian

Here’s the edited version:

No innocent person should be incarcerated, but the recent Supreme Court ruling seriously undermines an inmate’s ability to challenge their incarceration and prove their innocence via new, more advanced DNA testing methods.

The 5-4 ruling denies that inmates have a constitutional right to DNA testing after their conviction and places the states in charge of setting their own policies concerning whether inmates can have access to post-conviction DNA testing.

Amendment 6 of the U.S. Constitution states that “the accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him” and “obtaining witnesses in his favor.” And this applies to physical evidence as well.

The right to, as Reuters puts it, “obtain access to a state’s biological evidence to conduct DNA testing when pursuing claims of innocence” should easily fall under this amendment.

I agree with the dissenting justices that “the right to post-conviction DNA testing should not depend on the widely varying laws enacted by the states.”


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