The defendant's advocates decried the court's ruling against a convict's right to such evidence, but Attorney General Eric Holder suggested it would have a limited effect.
Lawyers with the Innocence Project expressed disappointment on Thursday after the US Supreme Court ruled that one of their clients did not enjoy a constitutional right to test biological evidence used to convict him years earlier.
"Most of the people who need DNA testing to prove their innocence will not be affected by today's ruling, but the small number of people who are impacted may suffer greatly," said Peter Neufeld, co-director of the New York-based Innocence Project, which has helped reverse 240 convictions through DNA testing.
Mr. Neufeld argued the case before the high court.
In a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court said state authorities in Alaska did not violate the constitutional rights of a convicted rapist when they refused to allow him to test the DNA evidence in his case years after his conviction.
The majority justices said William Osborne had adequate means to pursue his post-conviction investigation via state procedures and court rulings in Alaska.
Forty-seven states and the federal government have passed laws providing access to post-conviction DNA testing, according to the Innocence Project.