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NYCLU: Governor’s DNA Database Order Oversteps Authority

In a letter sent yesterday to the Commission on Forensic Science, the New York Civil Liberties Union charged that Governor George Pataki’s Executive Order 143 is unconstitutional because it exceeds the governor’s authority and thus violates the principle of separation of powers.

Pataki’s order instructs the Division of Criminal Justice Services, the regulatory body currently responsible for collecting DNA from individuals convicted of a narrow set of serious crimes, to expand greatly the circumstances under which individuals will be required to provide samples of their DNA. In addition to the narrow list of crimes specified by the Legislature, the Executive Order requires the collection of DNA from all persons on parole or probation. For years Pataki has urged the Legislature to require all convicted criminals to provide DNA, but the State Assembly has refused to pass such law, choosing instead to strike a different balance between privacy and law enforcement concerns; now, by issuing this order, the governor attempts to bypass the legislative branch and create the law himself. The governor has asked the New York State Commission on Forensic Science to approve the new requirements and the commission will be meeting today to discuss the matter.

“The function of the legislature is to enact the law,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “The function of the Governor is to execute the law. The only time Governor Pataki gets to make a law is when he signs his name to something passed by both chambers of the legislature.”

Click here to read the NYCLU’s letter. (Requires the free Adobe Reader.)

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