Senate Confirms Zahid Quraishi, First Muslim American Federal Judge in American History

In a remarkable show of bipartisan support for our usually divided congressional leadership, the Senate has voted to confirm the appointment of the first-ever Muslim American federal judge in U.S. history.

On Thursday, June 10, Zahid Quraishi was officially approved to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey by an 81-16 vote.

Saeed Ahmed of NPR reported that Quraishi is the son of Pakistani immigrants and has a long history of serving his country in various government agencies. 

“A graduate of Rutgers Law School, [he] was in an active law practice but gave that up to join the Army after the 9/11 attacks,” Ahmed reported. “He served two tours in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2006. In 2019, he was appointed as a U.S. magistrate judge for the District of New Jersey — the first Asian American to serve on the federal bench in the state.”

According to Ahmed, “Quraishi’s father, Nisar, emigrated to New York from Pakistan in 1970. The elder Quraishi opened a medical practice and continued seeing patients until he died of complications from coronavirus in April 2020.”

In an interview with NPR, Carl Tobias, a professor of law at the University of Richmond, praised Quraishi’s “historic appointment as the first Muslim Article 3 judge in history.”

“He just has this long, very enviable record of public service,” Tobias said. “I just find that to be unbelievable; I think it speaks to his really amazing public service.”

Dr. Ijaz Ahmad, chairman of the American Pakistani Public Affairs Committee, agreed, telling NPR, “[Quraishi] is a model for the outstanding contributions that Pakistani and Muslim Americans make to this country every day. We are grateful to President Biden for nominating him and to members of the Senate for confirming him today.”

Senator Cory Booker, also of New Jersey, similarly praised Quraishi while also explaining why he voted for him.

“Congrats to Judge Zahid Quraishi on his historic confirmation to the U.S. District Court of New Jersey!” the Senator tweeted. “Zahid’s character, skill and expertise as a jurist, and his longstanding service to our state and country make him an excellent addition to the court.”

Ahead of Quraishi’s confirmation, Booker told the press that voting for him was a shining reflection of America’s ideal of religious freedom.

“It was such a sacrosanct ideal in principle that our Founders put that into the Constitution,” Booker said. “Here we are generations and generations later and this will be a real moment of breakthrough of a person who has shown their patriotism.”

Ahmed reported that the new judge is just another in a long list of diverse nominees to various federal positions appointed under the Biden Administration.

“In March, Quraishi was among the first judicial nominations that President Biden announced,” Ahmed reported. “It was a diverse slate that included three African American women tapped for Circuit Court vacancies; the first AAPI woman to ever serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of D.C.; and the first woman of color to ever serve as a federal judge for the District of Maryland.”

Many political pundits have since declared the Biden presidency the most diverse and inclusive yet in our nation’s history.

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

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