Could 3rd time be a charm for Thomas Hardiman’s Supreme Court hopes? |

Could 3rd time be a charm for Thomas Hardiman’s Supreme Court hopes?


Having been close to a Supreme Court nomination twice, Pittsburgh Judge Thomas Hardiman might be wondering if he’ll be in the running again.

If President Donald Trump gets to nominate a third justice, Hardiman could be on the shortlist again, said University of Richmond School of Law professor Carl Tobias.

“I think he still would be viable,” Tobias said. “I think Trump liked him both times out. Maybe the third time would be the charm, but it depends on a lot of factors that we can’t anticipate right now.”

Trump passed over Hardiman, 53, of Fox Chapel on Monday when he nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the seat Justice Anthony Kennedy is leaving.

Tobias said he doesn’t expect justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, 85, or Stephen Breyer, 80, to retire before the end of Trump’s first term. Justice Clarence Thomas, 70, is the next-oldest member of the court.

Senate Democratic leaders have said they will oppose Kavanaugh’s appointment. The party holds 49 seats in the chamber responsible for judicial confirmations, which require a simple majority vote.

Hardiman was reportedly among Trump’s top two choices last year, when he nominated Neil Gorsuch, and then was among a group of four contenders to replace Kennedy. Hardiman sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Pittsburgh. He didn’t return a voicemail left at his office Tuesday.

Tobias said there appeared to be a bigger campaign behind Kavanaugh’s nomination than the other candidates, pushing the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judge to the top of a list of 25 nominees Trump was choosing from.

He said Hardiman’s experience as a District Court judge in Pittsburgh before his Appeals Court appointment might have been valuable on the Supreme Court, since District Court judges are tasked with implementing Supreme Court decisions.

“I think he would have appreciated that a lot more than these people who have only been circuit judges,” he said.

The last president to appoint three justices was Ronald Reagan, who nominated Sandra Day O’Connor in 1981, Antonin Scalia in 1986 and Kennedy in 1987.

A total of 113 justices have served on the Supreme Court. Just three have served past age 87. Oliver Wendell Holmes served until he was 90, John Paul Stevens until he was 90, and Roger Brooke Taney until he was 87.

Eleven justices served past the age of 80, including present justices Kennedy, Ginsburg and Breyer.

Ginsburg would be 87 years, 8 months old when the next election rolls around, making her the third-longest serving justice in U.S. history if she’s still on the bench. If she stuck around for another potential Trump term, she would be just shy of her 92nd birthday when the next president is sworn in, making her the oldest justice in U.S. history.

Breyer would be 82 years, 4 months old by the next election, giving him the ninth-longest tenure ever; and nearly 87 when a second potential Trump term would end.

Justice Samuel Alito is 68, Justice Sonia Sotomayor is 64 and Justice John Roberts is 63. Justice Elena Kagan is 58 and Justice Neil Gorsuch is 50.

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