Thomas Hardiman may become the next United States Supreme Court justice.
President Donald Trump will reveal his pick for the Supreme Court on Tuesday night; this is the person who will be replacing Antonin Scalia. One of the men emerging as a front-runner is Thomas Hardiman, who is currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He works there alongside Donald Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, who is a senior judge.
Hardiman is 53 years old, meaning he could realistically serve on the Supreme Court for over 30 years, dramatically shaping American policy into the 2050s. Based on Hardiman’s previous rulings, we can get a pretty good idea of where he stands politically, although it’s not clear where he comes down on certain issues. For instance, Hardiman has not really weighed in on abortion, but the fact that he is on the president’s list indicates that he is pro-life, as Trump has said he will require this of his Supreme Court nominee.
So who is Thomas Hardiman, the potential next Supreme Court justice? Here’s what you need to know about his positions on some key issues.
1. He Registered as a Republican in 1994
According to the Pittsburgh City Paper, Thomas Hardiman registered as a Republican in 1994 after previously not having been registered with a party.
In 1999, he supported Republican businessman Jim Roddey as Allegheny County executive and donated $8,500 to his campaign; he went on to serve as a co-chair on Roddey’s transition team. Roddey then appointed Hardiman to the position of treasurer of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania.
During the next few years of his legal career, Hardiman often represented Republicans, such as in a case where Democrats argued a candidate for a Senate race in Pennsylvania could not serve military duty and run for office at the same time.
Fred Thieman, a Democratic lawyer who worked with Thomas Hardiman at Titus & McConomy, said in 2003 that Hardiman is not an overly political person. This was when Hardiman was appointed by President George W. Bush to be a judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
“I find anyone who wears their politics on their sleeve, Democrat or Republican, as bothersome. And Tom isn’t one of them,” Thieman said. “I’d be really comfortable in front of [Hardiman] as a judge.”
2. He Argued That Police Can Strip-Search Any Arrestee Before They Enter Jail
In the case of Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, Thomas Hardiman argued that police can strip-search individuals who have been arrested for any crime, regardless of if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is carrying contraband and regardless of how long the person is being held for.
Hardiman concluded that this would not qualify as an unreasonable search and seizure and therefore would not violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
In his argument, Hardiman said that “prevention of the entry of illegal weapons and drugs is vital to the protection of inmates and prison personnel alike” and that the strip-search procedures reasonably balance “the Jails’ security interests at the time of intake before arrestees enter the general population against the privacy interests of the inmates.”
This case went to the Supreme Court, where the district court’s decision was affirmed.
3. He Argued That It Is Constitutional to Ban Felons From Buying Guns, as Long as the Felons Are Dangerous
In the case of United States of America vs. James Francis Barton, Jr., Hardiman rejected a challenge to a law preventing felons from purchasing guns, saying that this restriction does not violate the Second Amendment.
However, in 2016, he specified in Daniel Binderup v. Attorney General of United States of America and Director Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms & Explosives that this restriction can only apply to dangerous individuals who are likely to use the weapons for illicit purposes. The plaintiff in this case had been convicted of a non-violent crime.
According to SCOTUS Blog, Hardiman wrote that “the most cogent principle that can be drawn from traditional limitations on the right to keep and bear arms is that dangerous persons likely to use firearms for illicit purposes were not understood to be protected by the Second Amendment,” and he said that the defendants in this case did not fall into that category.
In the case of Drake v. Filko, Hardiman argued against a New Jersey law that required gun owners to show a “justifiable need” to own a weapon. In that case, it was argued that the Supreme Court has only established a Constitutional right to have a gun at home and had not establish a constitutional right to carry a gun in public.
Hardiman said that because “the need for self-defense naturally exists outside and inside the home, I would hold the 2nd Amendment applies outside the home.” He also said of the New Jersey law that “it is obvious that the justifiable need requirement functions as a rationing system designed to limit the number of handguns carried in New Jersey.”
4. He Argued That a School Banning Students From Wearing ‘I Heart Boobies’ Bracelets Was Not a First Amendment Violation
In the case of B.H. and K.M. v. Easton Area School District the court held that when a school banned students from wearing “I Heart Boobies” bracelets, which were intended to promote breast cancer awareness, this was a violation of the First Amendment.
However, Hardiman disagreed, writing the dissent in favor of the school. He said that it was “objectively reasonable to interpret the bracelets, in the middle school context, as inappropriate sexual innuendo and double entendre.” He added that ruling in favor of the students would “permit more egregiously sexual advocacy messages.”
However, he did say that this was a close case and that the bracelets “would seem to fall into a gray area between speech that is plainly lewd and merely indecorous.”
5. He Argued That Christians Could Read From the Bible During a Kindergarten Show & Tell
Hardiman has weighed in on a number of issues concerning the separation of Church and state over the years, such as the 2008 case of Busch vs. Marple Newtown School District.
With this case, a Christian mother sued a school district when they would not allow her to read from the Bible during a Kindergarten show and tell. The school district won, but Hardiman wrote the dissent arguing in defense of the mother.
“I believe the school went too far in this case in limiting participation in ‘All About Me’ week to nonreligious perspectives,” he wrote, going on to say that this clearly constituted discrimination.
Hardiman also argued against a school in the case of Ayers v. Pocono Mountain School District, in which a student was prohibited from distributing flyers to her classmates promoting a Christmas party at her church. The court ruled against the school district, saying that the school had not provided evidence that the student’s actions would threaten a “substantial disruption of the school environment or interfere with the rights of others.”