This Massachusetts native is reportedly among the finalists to be Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick

Thomas Hardiman could be in for quite a birthday gift.

FILE - In this March 8, 2017, file photo, Judge Thomas Hardiman smiles during a meeting with The Associated Press in Philadelphia. President Donald Trump's list of candidates for the Supreme Court, posted on White House website in November 2017 includes Hardiman. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, file)
Judge Thomas Hardiman smiles during a meeting last year with The Associated Press in Philadelphia. –Matt Slocum / AP

Thomas Hardiman will celebrate his 53rd birthday on Sunday. Could President Donald Trump, who says he plans to announce his Supreme Court nominee Monday, deliver the Massachusetts-bred federal judge a surprise birthday present?

Trump was widely reported this week to have narrowed down his list of candidates to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to three federal judges: Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, and Amy Coney Barrett. Hardiman, who was reportedly Trump’s runner-up pick to replace Justice Antonin Scalia last year, appeared out of the running this time around.

However, more recent reports suggest Hardiman is still under consideration.

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The Washington Post‘s Josh Dawsey reported Friday morning that Trump knows Kavanaugh is “seen as the conventional front-runner” to replace Kennedy and that the president is “being pushed to choose him.” However, “something is holding [Trump] back.”

“He’s talking about Coney Barrett & Hardiman,” Dawsey tweeted.

Less than an hour later, Fox News reporter John Roberts tweeted that the White House is preparing four “rollout packages” for Trump’s nomination announcement. And the fourth, perhaps surprisingly, was for Hardiman.

Hardiman is currently a judge for the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. According to biographical information submitted in 2006, he was born in Winchester and grew up in Waltham, where he even briefly worked as a taxi driver after graduating from Notre Dame in 1987.

Following his short taxi-driving stint, Hardiman went on to earn his legal degree from Georgetown University and worked for private law firms until 2003, when he become a U.S. district judge in western Pennsylvania. He was appointed to his current Third Circuit seat by President George W. Bush and was confirmed 95-0 by the Senate in 2007.

Hardiman was an original member of Trump’s public short list of Supreme Court candidates, which was vetted by conservative activist groups and first announced during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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According to the Washington Post, the 52-year-old judge holds a notably “expansive view” of the Second Amendment, which gun safety advocates characterize as extreme. He also controversially ruled that blanket strip searches in jail, even for those arrested for minor violations, are “reasonable.”

However, compared to the other candidates on Trump’s short list, Hardiman’s overall ideological views are more moderate.

During his 2003 confirmation hearings, he described volunteering at an immigration legal aid clinic in Washington, D.C., as “some of the most valuable time that I spent as a law student and as a lawyer” and said he “represented several immigrants who had entered without inspection.”

Trump told reporters Thursday that he had his short list down to between two and four candidates.

“I think I have it down to four people,” the president said aboard Air Force One. “And I think of the four people I have it down to three or two.”

It’s still unclear where exactly Hardiman ranks among that final four. NPR reported Thursday night that he is “still in the mix” but “seen as fourth.” Either way, it does certainly seem like the Waltham native could be in for a nerve-wracking birthday.

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