Judge Thomas Hardiman, Short List SCOTUS Nominee

Judge Thomas Hardiman(i), federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit is currently considered a favored(ii) candidate of President Trump, from his short list for Supreme Court Justice. The other two favored contenders are Judge Neil Gorsuch (U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit) and Judge William Pryor (U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit)(iii).

Personal Background

Thomas Michael Hardiman was born July 8, 1967 in Winchester, Massachusetts. Hardiman is from a blue collar family (his father owned a taxi-cab company). He was the first person in his family to earn a college degree. In 1987, he graduated with honors with a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame (he attended on academic scholarship). In order to pay for his law degree, he worked at law firms and drove a taxi while attending Georgetown. He received a J.D. with honors in 1990 from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he had served as a member of the Moot Court team (extracurricular activity that conducts simulated court proceedings) and as an editor of the Georgetown Law Journal. He earned Georgetown’s law school Paul R. Dean Award for distinguished alumni in 2010.

Professional and Political Background

From 1989-1992, Hon. Hardiman worked in the litigation department of the Washington DC law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom. He practiced with the Pittsburgh law firm of Titus & McConomy from 1992-1999, moving from an associate to a partner in 1996. From 1999-2003, he was a partner in the Pittsburgh law firm of Reed Smith, also in the litigation department.

In April of 2003, President George w. Bush nominated Hardiman to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania(iv). On October 22, 2003, he was confirmed by voice vote. In January 2007, President Bush nominated Hon. Hardiman to the Third Circuit(v), and confirmed by the U.S. Senate (by a unanimous vote of 95-0) on March 15, 2007(vi). Judge Hardiman has served in the Judicial Conference of the United States as the chair of the Committee on Information Technology. Judge Hardiman is an adjunct professor at the Duquesne University School of Law(vii).

Legal Opinions of Note

Hon. Hardiman has participated in several cases of note and has consistently ruled using an originalist approach to the Constitution, supporting 1st Amendment and 2nd Amendment rights. However, his record on LGBTQ and sexual orientation discrimination cases are more progressive than in other areas. His most noteworthy cases are as follows:

1st Amendment

  • United States v. Marcavage (2010, 3rd Cir.)(viii) Judge Hardiman was part of the opinion that an anti-abortion protestor, arrested for refusing to move from a sidewalk while leading a protest, was in his rights to stand on a sidewalk, as it is a public forum and as a result, Marcavage’s conviction was vacated. NOTE: Supported Freedom of Speech

2nd Amendment

  • United States v. Barton (2010, 3rd Cir.)(ix) Judge Hardman and two other panel members affirmed the District Court’s judgement of conviction and sentence of James Barton, who had pled guilty to two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and who had reserved the right to argue on appeal that these convictions violate his Second Amendment right.
  • Binderup v. Attorney General of the United States and Suarez v. Attorney General of the United States. Judge Hardiman, in a consolidated argument and en banc hearing, filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgements. In this case, Judge Hardiman, in his view, did not consider the appellants, despite their felony convictions, to be “dangerous persons likely to use firearms for illicit purposes were not understood to be protected by the Second Amendment(x).” In the opinions, Judge Suarez, in his dissent, wrote that,

“Judge Hardiman believes that [Graham,] § 922(g)(1) is so destructive of Second Amendment rights that, at least as applied to non-violent criminals, it is per se unconstitutional …”(xi)

NOTE: Supported Second Amendment rights, BUT appeared to use personal viewpoints to do so.

  • Drake v. Filko (2013, 3rd Cir)(xii). Four New Jersey residents and two organizations appealed a judgment from the US. District Court for the District of New Jersey that upheld a New Jersey law that required a “justifiable need” to have a gun as in the Handgun Permit Law, as the appellants stated that this is an unconstitutional prior restraint. Judge Hardiman dissented from the ruling in favor of the state, and opined that the law violates the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court declined to review the case on the merits.

Hon. Hardiman appears, on paper, to be fairly consistent with the principles of federalism and holds an originalist view of the Constitution.


(i): “Hon. Thomas M. Hardiman.” The Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies. Retrieved from the Web January 30, 2017. http://www.fed-soc.org/experts/detail/thomas-m-hardiman
(ii): “Trump: Hardiman is ‘most conservative’ and viable Supreme Court option” Joel Gehrke. January 29, 2017. The Washington Examiner. Retrieved from the Web January 30, 2017. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trump-hardiman-is-most-conservative-and-viable-supreme-court-option/article/2613229
(iii): “Potential nominee profile: Thomas Hardiman.” Amy Howe. SCOTUSblog.com. Retrieved from the Web January 30, 2017. http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/01/potential-nominee-profile-thomas-hardiman/
(iv): Biographical Director of Federal Judges: Hardiman, Thomas Michael. Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved from the Web January 30, 2017. http://www.fjc.gov/servlet/nGetInfo?jid=3044&cid=999&ctype=na&instate=na
(v): PN8 – Thomas M. Hardiman – The Judiciary. Nomination. 110th Congress. Retrieved from the Web January 30, 2017. https://www.congress.gov/nomination/110th-congress/8
(vi): “Question: On the Nomination (Confirmation Thomas M. Hardiman, of Pennsylvania, to be U.S. Circuit Judge). Nomination PN8. U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 110th Congress – 1st Session. Retrieved from the Web January 30, 2017. https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session =1&vote=00078
(vii): “A look at Thomas Hardiman, possible Trump SCOTUS nominee.” Michelle Gorman. January 6, 2017. Newsweek. Retrieved from the Web January 30, 2017. http://www.newsweek.com/profile-thomas-hardiman-trump-possible-scotus-nominee-539459
(viii): United States v. Marcavage. 2010, 3rd Cir. Retrieved from the Web January 30, 2017. http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/093573p.pdf
(ix): United States v. Barton, 2010 3rd Cir. Retrieved from the Web January 30, 2017. http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/092211p.pdf
(x): “Potential nominee profile: Thomas Hardiman.” Amy Howe. Retrieved from the Web January 30, 2017. http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/01/potential-nominee-profile-thomas-hardiman/
(xi): IBID. Judge Ambro. P.
(xii): Drake v. Filko. 2013, 3rd Cir. Retrieved from the Web January 30, 2017. http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/121150p.pdf