President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, said Wednesday that he was "sorry" for ruling against an autistic student because he was "bound by circuit precedent."
Gorsuch remarked on his ruling in favor of a Colorado school district over an autistic student after Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinFill the Eastern District of Virginia Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products Democrats struggle to gain steam on Biden spending plan MORE (D-Ill.) asked him about the decision during Wednesday's confirmation hearing.
"If anyone is suggesting that I like a result where an autistic child happens to lose, that’s a heartbreaking accusation to me. Heartbreaking," Gorsuch said.
"But the fact of the matter is I was bound by circuit precedent, and so was the panel of my court," he added, while noting that there are other examples where his 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for children with disabilities.
"If I was wrong, senator, I was wrong because I was bound by circuit precedent, and I’m sorry," he said.
Gorsuch wrote the opinion for a unanimous 2008 decision in which he rejected the claim that the Colorado school district was not doing enough to educate the autistic student.
In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that the school did not violate the law based on the low standard set by longstanding judicial precedent.
The Supreme Court, however, ruled on Wednesday that the schools have a higher burden than the one adopted by the 10th Circuit decision to properly educate students with disabilities.
"I am going to try to apply the law," Gorsuch said. "And I can tell you that we were doing it unanimously in all of those cases. And the Supreme Court is our boss, and we respect their last word."