Allies of President Trump who had been hoping Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch could be a bulwark for his administration's travel ban applying to residents of six predominantly Muslim nations may have been unsettled by the nominee's testimony Tuesday.

Gorsuch would not say whether he is for or against the ban, but he spoke forcefully about the importance of preserving freedom of religion and declared "silly" a congressman's remark, made outside the hearing room in recent weeks, that the best hope for preserving the ban is to install Gorsuch on the high court.

"A lot of people say a lot of silly things," Gorsuch said when asked about the unnamed congressman's comment by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). "He has no idea how I would rule in that case. And senator, I am not going to say anything here that would gave anybody any idea how I would rule .… It would be grossly improper."

But Leahy pushed. He pointed out that Trump had vowed repeatedly to stop Muslims from entering the country and asked Gorsuch if it would be appropriate to issue an order blocking Jews from coming to the country, or banning residents of Israel.

"We have a constitution," Gorsuch said in response.  "And it does guarantee freedom to exercise. It also guarantees equal protection of the laws and a whole lot else besides, and the Supreme Court has held that due process rights extend even to undocumented persons in this country. I will apply the law faithfully and fearlessly and without regard to persons."

Critics of Trump's travel ban have been challenging it in court, saying it conflicts with constitutional freedoms of religion and due process.