Background and Information: Judge Thomas Hardiman


Personal Life 

·         Born in Waldham, Massachusetts in 1965.

·         Married to Lori Hardiman for over 20 years; father of three.

·         Father worked as cab driver.

·         First in his family to graduate from college.

·         Helped pay his way through law school by driving cabs.

·         Served as president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh.


Current Position

·         Sits on United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

·         Confirmed by the United States Senate in a 95-0 vote, 2007.



·         B.A., Notre Dame, 1987; recipient of prestigious Notre Dame Scholar Award.

·         Exchange student at Universidad Iberoamericano, Mexico City, Mexico, 1985.

·         J.D., Georgetown Law School, 1990; Associate Editor and Notes and Comments Editor of Georgetown Law Journal.


Legal Experience

·         Attorney at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Washington, DC, 1989-92.

·         Attorney Titus & McConomy LLP in Pittsburgh, PA, 1992-99; Elected Partner in 1996.

·         Partner at Reed Smith LLP in Pittsburgh, PA, 1999-2003.

·         Earned “qualified” rating from American Bar Association, 2003.

·         Confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania by a voice vote of the United States Senate.

·         Served on U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, 2003-07.


Key Decisions and Quotations

Textualism & Originalism

In United States v. Abbott, Judge Hardiman ruled that a plain reading of statutory law made clear that a lower court had acted appropriately when sentencing the Plaintiff:


“In all cases of statutory interpretation, our inquiry begins with the language of the statute and focuses on Congress’s intent.”


His opinion in this case was unanimously affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Hardiman has also warned against referring to legislative history, writing a concurring opinion in Cheeseman v. United States (2009) to distance himself from the majority’s use of that interpretative method: “When interpreting a statute, it has long been accepted that courts should only examine legislative history when the statutory text is ambiguous or otherwise unclear. If the text is clear and unambiguous, our inquiry ends. . . . [In their opinion,] the Majority expounds upon the legislative histories of the Gun Control Act and the Firearm Owners Protection Act to buttress its textual interpretation. At least six of the sitting Justices of the Supreme Court have counseled against this approach. . . . For the foregoing reasons, I do not join that portion of the Court’s opinion that delves into legislative history.”


Judge Hardiman has also expressed a belief in judicial restraint, stating in a dissent that “Federal judges must apply the Constitution and the precedents of the Supreme Court regardless of what each judge might believe as a matter of policy or principle.”


Law & Order

In Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, Judge Hardman wrote the majority opinion that a jail may strip search individuals who are arrested before placing them in the general jail population. The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed Judge Hardiman’s decision. In Kelly v. Borough of Carlisle, Hardiman wrote the majority opinion rejecting the Plaintiff’s claim against a police officer seizing his camera, holding that there is no clearly established First Amendment right to record police officers during a traffic stop.


Second Amendment

Drake v. Filko involved a New Jersey law requiring residents to show “justifiable need” in order to carry handguns in public. Although a panel of judges upheld the law, Hardiman dissented, arguing that the law violated the Second Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court.


“Because I am convinced that New Jersey’s justifiable need requirement

unconstitutionally burdens conduct protected by the Second Amendment as interpreted in Heller and McDonald, I respectfully dissent.”


Religious Liberty

In Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Department of Health and Human Services, Judge Hardiman voted to rehear a case in which a court panel upheld the Obamacare contraceptive mandate; the Supreme Court would later strike down the mandate in Hobby Lobby.


Before becoming a judge, Hardiman worked pro bono to defend a display of the Ten Commandments on a public building in Modrovich vs. Allegheny County:


“Religious principles, ideas, and beliefs have impacted our history and influenced our laws since colonial times. . . . The Constitution no more requires the expungement of public references to the Ten Commandments than it does any other aspect of the heritage we share as Americans.”


Free Speech

In Lodge No. 5 of Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Philadelphia, Judge Hardiman struck down a city provision that barred police officers from contributing to a fund for the union’s political action committee. In DeJohn v. Temple University, he joined a unanimous ruling that harassment laws restricting speech are subject to the First Amendment.

Compiled by the Judicial Crisis Network, headed up by Carrie Severino, who is chief counsel to the organization, and a former clerk to Justice Thomas.


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