Federal judge Neil Gorsuch’s Senate confirmation hearing entered its second day Tuesday on Capitol Hill. The issue of Roe v. Wade took center stage on Monday as Senator Dianne Feinstein made it the linchpin of her opening remarks. She recounted the abortion story of Robin Utz, who recently wrote about her ordeal in a Washington Post Op-Ed, and pointed out that “the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld Roe’s core finding, making it settled law for the last 44 years.” On Tuesday, Gorsuch had a chance to answer questions from both Democrats and Republicans and several of them directly questioned the Supreme Court nominee about Roe v. Wade.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a 2016 presidential candidate and a Republican from South Carolina, inquired about the nomination process Gorsuch faced, including his interview with President Trump. “In that interview,” Graham asked, “did he ever ask you to overrule Roe v. Wade?”
“No, senator,” Gorsuch replied.
“What would you have done if he’d asked?” Graham followed up.
“Senator, I would’ve walked out the door,” Gorsuch said. “That’s not what judges do.”
During another line of question, this time led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Grassley questioned Gorsuch point-blank about his opinion of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision.
“Can you tell me whether Roe was decided correctly?” Grassley asked.
“Senator, again, I would tell you that Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court,” Gorsuch responded. “It has been reaffirmed. The reliance interest’s considerations are important there. And all of the other factors that go into analyzing precedent have to be considered. It is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court. It was reaffirmed in [Planned Parenthood v.] Casey in 1992, and in several other cases. So a good judge will consider it as precedent of the United States Supreme Court, worthy as treatment of precedent, like any other.
Feinstein, who had introduced the topic a day earlier, then got in on the questioning.
“Do you view Roe as having super precedent?” Feinstein asked.
“Well, Senator, a … super precedent is a …” Gorsuch began.
“In numbers, 44 ca–” Feinstein interjected.
“It has been reaffirmed many times, I can say that,” he answered.
“Yes,” Feinstein said, adding, “dozens.”
“Yes,” Gorsuch said.
Watch that exchange below.
Get complete coverage of Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing at The New York Times.