U.S. Senate Confirms First Muslim Federal District Judge

Zahid N. Quraishi, a federal Justice of the Peace decide and the son of Pakistani immigrants, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a federal judgeship in New Jersey on Thursday, changing into the primary Muslim Federal District Court decide within the nation’s historical past.

Judge Quraishi acknowledged his history-making standing after President Biden introduced his intention to appoint him in March. “Candidly,” the decide mentioned, “I would prefer to be the hundredth, if not the thousandth.” He added, “I understand what it means to the community.”

The Senate affirmation on Thursday, by a vote of 81 to 16, touched off a wave of congratulatory messages on social media from Democrats and progressives. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey referred to as Judge Quraishi “an excellent addition to the court.” Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii mentioned “Congratulations Judge Quraishi!” The Senate majority chief, Chuck Schumer of New York, and Senator Gary Peters of Michigan launched congratulatory messages too.

Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey referred to as Mr. Quraishi “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.” He added: “We should all draw inspiration from his story, because it is a story that could only take place in the United States of America.”

Underscoring the historic significance of the affirmation, Janai Nelson, affiliate director-counsel of NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., mentioned “Now seems like a good time to note that the first federal courts were created over 230 years ago.”

Judge Quraishi was among the many first wave of judicial nominations by Mr. Biden, who sought to counter the affect of his predecessor in steering federal courts to the suitable. Five of these nominees had been folks of coloration, and two had labored as public defenders.

In 2019, Judge Quraishi was appointed a U.S. Justice of the Peace decide in New Jersey. Before that he was chair of the white collar legal protection and investigations group for Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP, a big legislation agency in New Jersey. From 2008 to 2013 he was an assistant U.S. legal professional in New Jersey. Before that, he was an assistant chief counsel on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Judge Quraishi, who was born in New York City and raised in Fanwood, N.J., graduated from Rutgers Law School in 2000. After clerking for a decide, he went to work at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP, which he later described in a podcast as a transfer to, partly, please his mother and father, who had immigrated to the United States from Pakistan.

“I took a job at the biggest law firm I could get a job at with the biggest salary,” Judge Quraishi mentioned in January on a podcast hosted by the Muslim Bar Association of New York. “I thought that would make my parents proud.”

His first day at work, he mentioned, was Sept. 11, 2001. Two years later, Judge Quraishi joined the Army and was deployed to Iraq. He was awarded the Bronze Star and was discharged in 2007.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group, has criticized Judge Quraishi’s work in Iraq, and within the second time period of President Bush. In an announcement, the group mentioned he labored as a “‘detention legal adviser’ during the American occupation of Iraq from 2003 to 2007 when prisoner abuse was rampant.” That work, and his service with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the course of the Bush administration “sparked concern in the civil rights community,” the group mentioned.

The group wrote a letter to senators urging them to research Judge Quraishi’s work throughout this time.

In the podcast interview, Judge Quraishi described his path to the federal bench as a departure from what his father, a doctor, had initially supposed. “You can imagine my father thinking I would be going to med school to follow in his footsteps,” Judge Quraishi recalled. But, he mentioned, “I had no interest.” So he utilized to legislation faculty as a substitute.

“Without any real goal in mind, I thought why not go to law school?” he mentioned within the podcast. “I like to argue, I talk all the time.”

In April, Judge Quraishi’s 73-year-old father, Nisar, died from problems of the coronavirus, The Tribeca Trib reported. “He loved practicing medicine,” Judge Quraishi instructed the paper. “He loved helping other people, which caused him to be infected and pass away.”