WASHINGTON — They’re all younger than 55 and conservative enough to make a first cut. But the four judges who are apparently the finalists for President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court nomination are being measured against a set of questions that go well beyond age and ideology.
Judge Thomas Hardiman is a familiar person to this process, having been considered as a high court nominee in the past.
Presidents weigh all sorts of considerations in deciding on a Supreme Court nominee, often beginning with the big question: Will the choice be confirmed by the Senate? Academic credentials, professional experience and sometimes even gender, race and geographical diversity all can be part of the equation.
The stakes are sky high for filling the opening created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s imminent retirement. The new justice has the potential to entrench conservative control of the Supreme Court for years to come.
Here are some of the pluses and minuses for Thomas Hardiman.
Background on Thomas Hardiman
Current position: Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, hearing federal appeals from Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Virgin Islands
Education: Hardiman was the first in his family to attend college, at the University of Notre Dame, then helped pay for his law school education at Georgetown by driving a taxi.
Distinction: Hardiman was a runner-up when Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the high court in 2017. He might appeal to Trump if the president is looking for someone from a blue-collar background.
Track record: Hardiman has some notable opinions in his 11 years on the appeals court that could appeal to Trump, including upholding strip searches of jail inmates, even those arrested on minor charges, backing collection of genetic evidence from people at the time of their arrest, and dissenting from a ruling that upheld gun regulations in New Jersey.
Private life: Hardiman’s judicial chambers are in Pittsburgh, where his wife comes from a family of prominent Democrats.
Support for nomination: Hardiman also was a colleague of Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who stopped hearing cases last year. Some conservative groups don’t trust Barry because she wrote an opinion striking down a New Jersey abortion regulation in 2000, and they hope she has no influence over her brother’s choice.