During a decade on the federal appeals court in Denver, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has raised concerns about intrusive government searches and seizures that he found to violate constitutional rights. He generally has ruled against defendants appealing their convictions and those who claim they received unfair trials. He has warned about the danger of having too many criminal laws on the books, the Associated Press reports. That skepticism seems to align him with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a strong believer in protecting people from overzealous police and prosecutors. Liberal groups oppose Gorsuch’s nomination, in part based on views that his overall record on criminal justice is too harsh. “At a time when the abuses of our criminal justice system are becoming a national crisis, we cannot confirm a justice who does not understand the role of the Supreme Court to protect the most vulnerable among us,” said the liberal People for the American Way.
UCLA law Prof. Adam Winkler says Gorsuch may be a vote to curtail criminal prosecution of Wall Street executives and financiers. “He is likely to read federal criminal laws narrowly,” Winkler said. “Gorsuch is also likely to favor industry against what he sees as excessive criminal laws regulating business.” His opinions have faulted police for seizing evidence in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches. Last year, Gorsuch parted from the two-judge majority in a ruling that said police had a right to walk onto a man’s property to knock on the front door despite “No Trespassing” signs. Law Prof. Paul Rothstein of Georgetown University said Gorsuch appears to have a mixed record in criminal cases. “I think his primary area of concern for the citizen is in the privacy of your home or your private belongings,” Rothstein said. “He believes there is a private area and he’s pretty strong about that.”