With controversy swirling around President Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from certain Muslim countries and all refugees from Syria, Trump has moved up his scheduled announcement of a Supreme Court nominee to Tuesday night. It appears he is choosing between an Ivy League elite and a working-class Catholic from Waltham, Mass.
Federal Judges Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman are said to be the favorites. Given Trump’s lack of judicial philosophy, less traditional factors could decide between the two. Or given his unpredictability, there is always a chance for a last minute wild card.
Gorsuch is a product of Harvard and Oxford. He has clerked for two other Supreme Justices and is seen as a natural successor to Antonin Scalia for whom Trump has expressed admiration.
Hardiman is a native of Waltham, the son of blue collar parents. He drove a taxi to make money during summers. He went to Notre Dame and Georgetown University Law School. His personal story may endear him to Trump. Importantly, Trump’s sister, also a federal judge, endorses Hardiman. Also, he would be the only sitting justice who didn’t go to Harvard or Yale.
It’s not surprising that Trump moved up the announcement—it was originally scheduled for Thursday. But the natives are restless. Demonstrations continue across the country over Trump’s Muslim immigrant and Syrian refugee ban. The acting attorney general has now directed justice department officials not to defend Trump’s executive order in the courts.
Trump’s move may simply be another head fake. His He is going to pick whoever picks. He probably figures he should do while it can obfuscate his current problems. That would be classic Trump.