The federal judiciary now has its first Muslim jurist after the Senate on Thursday confirmed a nominee of President Joe Biden to a U.S. District Court seat in New Jersey.
Judge Zahid Quraishi was confirmed in an 81-16 vote to the lifetime appointment. All of those who voted against his confirmation were Republicans.
Here are the 16 Senators who opposed Quraishi’s nomination, all Republican:
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) June 10, 2021
Quraishi served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and was deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2006, according to CBS News.
He has been a U.S. magistrate judge since 2019. In addition to private practice, he worked for five years as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey and was an assistant chief counsel at the Department of Homeland Security.
Quraishi, who is the child of immigrants from Pakistan, was born in New York City and joined the military after the 9/11 attacks.
“Those events of that day inspired Judge Quraishi to consider a career in public service. He applied to the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where he was commissioned as an officer and attained the rank of captain,” Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said, according to NBC News.
Biden pledged to use his judicial appointments as a vehicle to increase the racial and gender diversity of the federal court system.
“Mr. Quraishi will be the first American Muslim in United States history to serve as an Article III federal judge. The third largest religion in the United States, and he will become the first to ever serve as an Article III judge,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, according to CNN.
“We must expand not only demographic diversity, but professional diversity, and I know that President Biden agrees with me on this, and this will be something that I will set out to do,” the New York Democrat said.
BREAKING: The Senate just confirmed Zahid Quraishi to serve on the District Court for the District of NJ.
He’s the first Muslim American federal judge in US history.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 10, 2021
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey said the confirmation of the first Muslim federal judge was “something that should have been achieved a long time ago.”
When nominated by Biden in March, Quraishi suggested the appointment of a Muslim was long overdue, according to The New York Times.
“Candidly,” the judge said, “I would prefer to be the hundredth, if not the thousandth.”
He added, “I understand what it means to the community.”
Zahid Quraishi, 46, now holds a lifetime seat on a U.S. district court in New Jersey. https://t.co/KHDJfUtilF
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) June 10, 2021
The Council on American-Islamic Relations raised questions about his service in Iraq and with the Department of Homeland Security.
In an April 28 news release, the group said, “Aspects of Judge Quraishi’s work history, including his service as a ‘detention legal adviser’ during the American occupation of Iraq from 2003 to 2007 when prisoner abuse was rampant, and his service with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] during the final two years of the Bush Administration, have sparked concern in the civil rights community.”
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