Since United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he would be stepping down from his seat, speculation has run rampant about who President Donald J. Trump would pick for the second vacancy on the court during his presidency. President Trump himself narrowed down the list, saying that he would continue to draw from the 25-name-long shortlist he provided during his campaign.
Though speculation suggested that he would choose either Raymond Kethledge from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals or Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit Court, it seems that Donald Trump chose another option, one most people did not even mention. According to allies and those close to him, the President of the United States of America will roll out his choice of Judge Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania later tonight. The choice is shocking, but how did the media find out?
Allies of the judge were told to begin to tout his ‘blue-collar’ background and history as a taxi-driver, an odd job for a man who could soon sit on the Supreme Court, in preparation for his confirmation hearings.
They also said that the judge was in Washington D.C. for a conference, which just happened to fall on the same day as the President promised to announce his choice.
It seems strangely poetic that Thomas Hardiman would get the nomination, however. After all, he was a leading contender to replace Antonin Scalia, though he eventually lost to Justice Neil Gorsuch after much consideration.
Hardiman has an impressive legal history to draw from, as well. He studied law at the Georgetown University Law Center, and also served as an editor for the Georgetown Law Journal, and a member of the moot court team.
He also worked for various law firms during the summers and throughout his education, gaining experience and paying his way.
After his graduation, he joined the D.C. firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and was an associate in the litigation department for three years.
Then, Hardiman moved to practice with Titus & McConomy, where he eventually made partner. He then moved on to become a partner in the litigation department at Reed Smith, and practiced mostly civil and white-collar litigation cases.
In 2003, George W. Bush appointed Hardiman to a position on a United States District Court in Pennsylvania.
During his time on the Third Circuit Court, he made a number of high-visibility decisions, almost all of which the average conservative would be satisfied by.
He came down on the side of religious freedom in Busch v. Maple Newtown School District (2008), when he said that barring two Evangelical Christian parents from reading the Bible during ‘show and tell’ was plainly discriminatory.
In the 2013 case Drake v. Filko, he filed a dissenting opinion, which stated that New Jersey’s requirement that gun owners had to show a “justifiable need” in order to get a permit to carry a handgun was unconstitutional. He cited the Heller case in his dissent.
In the case Lodge No. 5 of Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Philadelphia, Hardiman struck down a charter in the city of Philadelphia that barred police officers from being able to donate to the Fraternal Order of Police’s political action committee, standing up for the right of employees to voluntarily unionize and support political speech (voluntarily being the key word there).
Even those on the left will be able to find something to like about him, if they care to give Judge Hardiman a fair shake before besmirching his work.
While he was a student at Georgetown University, he participated in an exchange program in Mexico, and eventually even volunteered with the Ayuda immigration office in Washington D.C.
There, he represented immigrants in front of the courts, often for little to no recompense.
He is also a member of the board at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh.
According to insiders in the White House, President Trump selected Hardiman because he seemed a better choice than the other three individuals believed to be frontrunners.
It seems likely that the President and his advisors walked away from Judge Amy Coney Barrett due to the difficulty she would likely face in the confirmation process because of her outspoken stance on the infamous Roe v. Wade decision.
As for Judge Kavanaugh, though he was an early frontrunner, the White House feared that his ties to George W. Bush, and his time in the Bush administration, would make it difficult or even impossible to pass through the confirmation process.
Judge Kethledge, on the other hand, simply didn’t show the energy that President Trump likes to see in his appointees, according to the Trump White House.
Now, all that’s left is to see the announcement tonight, and to find out if the President really did pick Thomas Hardiman to sit on the SCOTUS.