Meet Thomas Hardiman, The Pittsburgh Judge On Trump’s SCOTUS Short List

Jan 31, 2017

President Donald Trump said on Twitter that he will announce a nominee to the Supreme Court Tuesday evening at 8 p.m.

Among those names on the short list is Pittsburgher Thomas Hardiman, 51, a federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Hardiman was appointed to the post in 2007 by President George W. Bush.

Hardiman received his law degree from Georgetown University. He became a partner at the Pittsburgh law firm Titus & McConomy at age 30 and a federal district judge the U.S. District Court for Western Pennsylvania at 38.

Duquesne University President Ken Gormley was on the hiring committee that interviewed Hardiman for a job at the firm that then called Cindrich & Titus.

“After I interviewed him, I went in and said to the managing partner, ‘We need to hire this guy right now, today,’” Gormley said. “He was so impressive. It was clear he was going to be a superstar as an attorney and it’s no surprise he became a superstar as a judge.”

Gormley, a Democrat, said it’s no surprise that Trump nominated a conservative judge to the bench, having promised to do so while on the campaign trail.

“And Tom Hardiman is a conservative, but he’s also someone much like Chief Justice Rehnquist,” Gormley said. “You could disagree with him but you always knew he was trying to do the right thing in terms of the system of justice and the rule of law.”

Hardiman taught constitutional law at Duquesne while Gormley was Dean of the law school. Gormley said Hardiman refused to take a salary, and instead donated the money to a scholarship fund for low-income students.

As a lawyer in the 1990s, Hardiman represented Edgewood residents who opposed the construction of low-income housing, successfully reducing the number of units built from eight to three. Hardiman also represented landlords accused of discriminating against African Americans.

His prominent opinions on the appeals court include siding with jails seeking to strip search inmates arrested for even minor offenses and backing the collection of genetic evidence from people at the time of their arrest. Hardiman has supported gun rights, dissenting in a 2013 case that upheld a New Jersey law to strengthen requirements to carry a handgun in public.

Hardiman last year joined two 3rd Circuit colleagues in affirming the $1 billion settlement of NFL concussion claims, rejecting complaints that men with depression and mood disorders that some link to football concussions were left out of the deal. The Supreme Court later refused to hear the challengers' appeal.

Hardiman’s wife, Lori, is a Pittsburgh native and the cousin of Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, Jr. Zappala declined to comment on his cousin-in-law’s nomination.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.