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Senate Confirms Zahid Quraishi as First Muslim Federal Judge in the U.S.

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On Thursday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Zahid Quraishi as a U.S. District Judge of New Jersey, making him the first Muslim American to hold the position in U.S. history.

What We Know:

  • Quraishi, the son of Pakistani immigrants, was approved by the Senate with an 81-16 vote, receiving all present Democratic votes and 34 Republican ones. He is currently a U.S. magistrate judge for the District of New Jersey, has worked as a federal prosecutor, and served two tours in Iraq.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), stated, “[Quraishi] is a man of integrity, a consummate public servant, and a trailblazer for Asian Americans and Muslim Americans across this country who dream of one day presiding over a court of their own.”

  • President Joe Biden nominated Quraishi in his first group of judicial nominations back in March. Biden focused on diversity with his group of nominees, including three African American women for the openings in the Circuit Court and the first women of color to serve as a federal judge in the District of Maryland.
  • Democrats and progressives expressed their excitement and gave their congratulations to Quraishi via social media. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) stated that Quraishi was an “excellent addition to the court,” and his confirmation is a “reflection of America’s ideal of religious freedom.” Before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that they need to expand on demographic and professional diversity, and confirming Quraishi was an example of that.

  • According to The New York Times, The Council on American-Islamic Relations criticized Quraishi’s time while in Iraq and his involvement with former President George W. Bush’s second term. They called Quraishi a “detention legal adviser” during a time when prisoner abuse in Iraq was out of hand.
  • The civil rights group also called out the judge’s involvement with ICE throughout Bush’s last two years of office. They wrote the Senate a letter begging them to take a look into Quraishi’s actions during this time and consider them before they voted. Quraishi received the Bronze Star for his time in service.

Along with confirming Quraishi, the Senate also advanced the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Jackson is at the top of the list for the Supreme Court if a vacancy appears.

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