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Gorsuch on Heller: 'My job is to apply and enforce the law

When questioned about the Supreme Court's landmark 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case, Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch promised to "apply and enforce the law." (Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)

Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch dodged questions Tuesday about his personal opinion on the highest federal court's 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, but promised "to apply and enforce the law."

Questioned by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gorsuch promised to uphold the law as it is written.

The Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 in a 2008 decision that protects an individual's right to bear arms for purposes such as self-defense.

Feinstein pressed Gorsuch on whether he agreed with specifics in the late Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion on the case and in former Justice John Paul Stevens' dissenting opinion. Gorsuch declined to answer questions about his opinions on specific details in either opinion.

"Both Justice Scalia and Justice Stevens wrote excellent opinions in that case," Gorsuch said. "I'm not here, though, to grade my bosses' work. That would be kind of impertinent of me, I suspect. And certainly, I'm sure, they would think so."

"Whatever is in Heller is the law," Gorsuch later added. "It's not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, senator. Respectfully, it's a matter of it being the law. And my job is to apply and enforce the law."

Feinstein replied, "All right, fair enough."

[graphiq id="7R1KbHWlHtr" title="District of Columbia v. Heller" width="600" height="780" url="https://w.graphiq.com/w/7R1KbHWlHtr" ]

Feinstein then continued to press Gorsuch on the Second Amendment, asking him if he agreed that the language of the amendment is ambiguous and if that ambiguity "should be decided by courts or by legislatures."

Gorsuch repeated that "Heller is the law of the land," regardless if some judges — even those who Gorsuch likes — disagree with the law.

Earlier in her line of questioning, Feinsten contended that Gorsuch had previously told her during a meeting in her office that he "would be open to discussion" about the Heller case.

Gorsuch's firm declaration that Heller is the "law of the land" earned him praise from Townhall editor and gun rights activist Katie Pavlich.

Gorsuch also said Roe v. Wade is a "precedent of the United States Supreme Court" Tuesday morning but declined to elaborate on whether he would uphold the decision.

[graphiq id="8xBWmwlJgTH" title="Neil Gorsuch" width="500" height="810" url="https://w.graphiq.com/w/8xBWmwlJgTH" ]

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