Last year’s runner-up, Thomas Hardiman has a working-class background that could appeal to Trump voters

Last year's runner-up, Thomas Hardiman has a working-class background that could appeal to Trump voters

Hardiman, 53, was the runner-up last year in the seat that went to Justice Neil M. Gorsuch. He has a solidly conservative record, including a strong defense of gun rights. And Hardiman’s working-class background could bring a fresh perspective to the nation’s highest court, giving him a special appeal to the voters who propelled President Trump’s drive to the White House. As a young man, he learned Spanish, studied in Mexico and worked with Ayuda, a legal aid clinic in Washington, where he represented Spanish-speaking immigrants, including those who were seeking political asylum. Beyond that, Hardiman had an inside advantage: He serves on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia along with Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who has reportedly urged her brother to choose him. But he has not appeared to be among Trump’s top three candidates in the search to replace retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. He has been seen as a capable, hardworking and well-liked judge. But he did not have a national reputation as a legal thinker, and even lawyers in Pittsburgh said last year that they do not see him as Supreme Court material. “He takes the case before him and looks at the facts and precedents, but without imposing an overarching view of the law,” said University of Pittsburgh law professor Arthur Hellman. “It’s hard to assess what he would be like as a Supreme Court justice. My guess is that he will be a cautious judge, at least for a few years.” […]

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