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Trump’s Supreme Court pick gets personal

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President Donald Trump’s two finalists for the Supreme Court offer him a choice between a pair of competing personal narratives: an Ivy League pedigree or a blue collar history.

With the president lacking any consistent judicial philosophy, those close to Trump are emphasizing their candidate’s life story as they attempt to sway Trump toward either Neil Gorsuch or Thomas Hardiman.

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Gorsuch has the resume of a man seemingly destined for the high court: the son of a Reagan Cabinet member, a graduate of Harvard and Oxford, and a clerk for two Supreme Court justices who has worked in the Justice Department and spent a decade on the federal bench. In conservative legal circles, he is favored as a worthy intellectual heir to the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Hardiman has blue-collar roots that his backers say would make him a quintessential Trump nominee: a native of a working-class industrial town in Massachusetts, the first in his family to graduate from college, and upwardly mobile without passing through the corridors of the Ivy League. He would be the only sitting justice who did not attend Harvard or Yale.

“If it’s Hardiman, the story will be ‘here’s a guy of modest means, from Western Pennsylvania [where he currently lives], typical Irish-Catholic family and here he is reaching the pinnacle of the legal profession,’” said Leonard Leo, who has been one of Trump’s top advisers in the Supreme Court search.

And if it is Gorsuch, Leo went on, “The story will be ‘Neil Gorsuch is an exceptional jurist whose work substantially reflects the jurisprudence, quality and style of Justice Scalia.’”

During the campaign, Trump largely outsourced the creation of his initial list of potential justices to the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, meaning all came with a stamp of conservative pre-approval.

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