There has been plenty of speculation as to who President Donald Trump may choose to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
There is speculation tonight that Trump has made an unexpected choice as his nominee.
Yahoo News reports.
Thomas Hardiman, a 51-year-old judge who sits on the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals, has caught the attention of observers to fill the void left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia for several reasons.
With Democrats threatening to block Trump's Supreme Court pick, it's noteworthy that Hardiman was voted onto the appeals court in 2007 by a 95-0 tally. Both Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, voted to approve him.
Hardiman also has the backing of Trump's closest judicial source: his sister.
Maryanne Trump Barry, a fellow 3rd Circuit judge, holds a high opinion of Hardiman. As an adviser who spoke with the president told Politico, "Maryanne is high on Hardiman."
And those who know the conservative judge say there's another trait that could be attractive to Trump.
"I don't know that I can think of anybody that seemed as down-to-earth as he is," Carter Phillips, a Washington, DC, lawyer who has argued before the Supreme Court more than any other attorney in private practice, told Business Insider.
Phillips said he has argued a pair of cases in front of Hardiman, been a part of a few panels with the Pittsburgh-based judge, and had a handful of Hardiman's former clerks work at his law firm, Sidley Austin.
"He's a really nice person," Phillips said. "I think he will be what you see is what you get on the bench. I don't think you're going to see anything quite like Justice Scalia in that regard — I don't expect him to be larger than life. ... He appears, by all means, to be a solid conservative."
Hardiman, at 37, was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve on the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. He was nominated to the appeals court four years later.
A Notre Dame graduate who received his law degree from Georgetown, Hardiman would find himself in sparse company on the Supreme Court bench — each justice currently seated holds an Ivy League law degree.
Trump promised throughout the campaign to fill the vacancy with a judge in the mold of Scalia. Those who spoke with Business Insider about Hardiman said he would likely fall somewhere between Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts ideologically.
Former US District Judge Robert Cindrich, who hired Hardiman to join his Pittsburgh firm when Hardiman moved to the city, said he "tries to be humanistic" and "tries to solve problems" in a way similar to Roberts.
"That might be somewhere where he might fit," Cindrich told Business Insider. "For sure he's a conservative. In his philosophies, he is a Republican, There's no question about his conservative bona fides. He was active in the Republican Party when he came to Pittsburgh — very successful at that, by the way — so you would have to say he'd be of the conservative mold. How far, it's very hard for me to say.
"Whether he is as strict an originalist as Justice Scalia, I can't say," he said. "But whether he would pay heed to the word of the Constitution, I know he will. There's no question."