A Pittsburgh-based judge is reportedly in the running to be Trump’s next pick for the U.S. Supreme Court. If chosen, federal appeals court judge Thomas Hardiman, 52, would replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Trump said he’ll announce his choice by Monday.
Hardiman was one of two finalists to replace late Justice Antonin Scalia in 2017, but Trump chose Neil Gorsuch instead.
Hardiman is considered a solid conservative who tends to favor more expansive gun rights and has voted to limit the rights of prisoners. He has yet to rule directly on abortion rights.
He’s reported to have the backing of Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, who served on the federal appeals court with Hardiman.
A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Hardiman would be the only justice who didn’t attend an Ivy League law school, if confirmed.
“One thing that many people say is he does not appear to be part of the Washington swamp, and he is not one of the East Coast elites,” said University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias.
Tobias said federal appeals court judges Raymond Kethledge of Michigan and Brett Kavanaugh of Maryland are rumored to be the frontrunners to fill the vacant seat. But, he added, Hardiman is “very much in the mix."
“The Democrats would be opposed probably to anyone President Trump chooses,” Tobias noted, “so it might be a tough fight. But I think it might be easier for [Hardiman] than perhaps the others because he hasn’t really ruled on very many controversial issues.”
Hardiman has served on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2007, after being appointed by President George W. Bush and winning unanimous approval in the Senate. He served as a federal trial judge in the Western District of Pennsylvania for four years before joining the appeals court.