SCOTUS Contenders: Who Says What About Labor, Employment, Benefits (Corrected)

Employee Benefits News examines legal developments that impact the employee benefits and executive compensation employers provide, including federal and state legislation, rules from federal...

By Carmen Castro-Pagan and Porter Wells

U.S. Supreme Court watchers have pulled four names from President Donald Trump’s list as the most likely picks to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy: Brett M. Kavanaugh, Thomas M. Hardiman, Don R. Willett, and Amul R. Thapar.

The four men have a lot in common: they each sit on different federal appeals court benches and are all considered conservative scholars and jurists. Bloomberg Law takes a closer look at how these judges have ruled on labor, employment, and benefits issues.

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh

General Info

  • Born Feb. 12, 1965, Kavanaugh is a Washington native and attended Yale Law School.
  • On the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2006.
  • No stranger to a contentious confirmation processes, as it took three years for the Senate to confirm him after his appointment by President George W. Bush in 2003.
  • Clerked for Justice Kennedy, who swore him in as a judge.

Relevant Rulings

Judge Thomas M. Hardiman

General Info

  • Born July 8, 1965, Hardiman hails from Massachusetts and attended Georgetown Law School.
  • On the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit since 2007.
  • Appointed by President George W. Bush and won Senate confirmation by a vote of 95-0.

Relevant Rulings

  • He authored one opinion holding that the question of whether an effeminate man was fired because of gender stereotypes about his sex was one for a jury.
  • Hardiman tends to favor workers involved in disputes over employee benefits.
  • He authored another opinion holding that an employee doesn’t have to actually go on Family and Medical Leave Act leave before an employer is able to be at fault in retaliating against her. Making a valid request for FMLA leave sufficiently triggers the Act’s anti-retaliation provisions as well.
Judge Don R. Willett

General Info

  • Born July 16, 1966, Willett is a Texas native who attended Duke University School of Law.
  • On the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit since January 2018, appointed by Trump.
  • Worked in President George W. Bush’s administration, then served as associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court.

Relevant Rulings

Judge Amul R. Thapar

General Info

  • Born April 29, 1969, Thapar is the youngest of the four. He’s originally from Michigan and attended U.C. Berkeley School of Law.
  • On the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit since March 2017.
  • Appointed by Trump, and is the second Indian American Article III judge in U.S. history.

Relevant Rulings

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