Donald Trump’s pick for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court has insisted that no-one, including the president who nominated him, is above the law.
Neil Gorsuch also told his Senate confirmation hearing that no-one had asked him to make any promises on how he would rule.
He said he would have “walked out” if Mr Trump had asked him to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade abortion ruling.
Mr Gorsuch also called Trump’s attacks on federal judges “disheartening”.
In February, the president called a judge who halted his controversial travel ban a “so-called judge”, and Mr Gorsuch privately told senators that this implied any terror attacks on US soil would be his fault.
At the time, Mr Gorsuch said privately to lawmakers this attack by the president was “disheartening and demoralising” and repeated those words in Tuesday’s hearing.
“When anyone criticises the honesty or the integrity or the motives of a federal judge, I find that disheartening. I find that demoralising – because I know the truth,” he said.
Asked if that included the president, he answered: “Anyone is anyone.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer later tweeted that Mr Gorsuch was “speaking broadly” and had not mentioned anyone by name.
During his first day of questions in the confirmation hearing, the Colorado judge was rarely wrong-footed.
Despite attempts by Democrats to press him on hot-button issues, he repeatedly said it would be wrong to say how he would rule on any given case.
That would be the “beginning of the end” of an independent judiciary, he said.
Mr Gorsuch, nominated for the seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia 13 months ago, is facing two days of intense grilling in the Senate Judicial Committee.