Thomas Hardiman, a conservative and well-respected judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, is reportedly on the short list for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Trump.
Scotusblog and other media outlets reported Tuesday that the list had been narrowed down to Hardiman, along with Judge William Pryor of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and Judge Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
The nomination would be for the seat of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.
The Third Circuit is based in Philadelphia, but Hardiman, 51, spends most of his time in Pittsburgh, where he lives with his wife, Lori, who is a lawyer, and their three children. Among his fellow jurists on the Third Circuit is Trump's sister, Maryanne Trump Barry.
In the legal profession, Hardiman is known for his tightly focused reasoning and ability to cut to the heart of matters.
"I know him to be a very smart, hardworking, diligent judge," said Nancy Winkelman, an appellate lawyer at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis.
Hardiman, a graduate of Notre Dame University and the Georgetown University Law Center, came from humble beginnings. He is originally from Massachusetts. His father was a cabdriver, and Hardiman also drove a cab to help pay for law school. He was the first person in his family to attend college.
After law school, he worked for a short time at mega firm Skadden Arps before moving to Pittsburgh, where his wife is from. There he joined the firm of Reed Smith, another globe-straddling firm that specializes in representing corporate clients.
Paul Titus, a Pittsburgh-based lawyer for Schnader Harrison, longtime friend of Hardiman's, and a former colleague, said Hardiman did substantial amounts of pro bono work while he was in private practice.
"If you look among circuit judges who are Republican in their 40s and 50s, it's not surprising that his name would come up," Titus said. "He is a very intelligent, careful and thoughtful lawyer. A very decent person."
Hardiman is fluent in Spanish and was nominated to the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh by President George W. Bush in 2003.
In 2006, he was nominated by President Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, a move up.
In March, President Obama nominated U.S. appeals court judge Merrick Garland to fill Scalia's Supreme Court post. Senate Republicans blocked his appointment by refusing to consider the nomination.