Obama Nominates First Muslim to be a Federal Judge

Friday, September 09, 2016
Abid Riaz Qureshi (photo: Latham & Watkins)


By Daniel Victor, New York Times


President Barack Obama nominated Abid Riaz Qureshi to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, potentially making the Washington lawyer the first Muslim federal judge.


Qureshi is a partner at Latham & Watkins LLP in Washington, where he is the global chairman of its pro bono committee and specializes in the False Claims Act, health care fraud and securities violations. He received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1997 and a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1993.


“I am confident he will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice,” Obama said in a statement.


The issue of diversity in the judicial landscape received renewed attention this year after Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, said in May that Gonzalo P. Curiel, the presiding judge in a lawsuit filed by former Trump University students, would be biased against him because of the judge’s Mexican-American background. Trump later said that he did not think that a Muslim judge would be fair to him, either.


Muslim advocacy groups cheered Qureshi’s nomination, saying he would become the first Muslim federal judge. In a statement, Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that Qureshi would join “the hundreds of thousands of American Muslims serving their fellow citizens and the nation.”


“The nomination of Abid Qureshi to fill a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sends a message of inclusion that is welcomed by the American Muslim community and by all Americans who value diversity and mutual respect at a time when some seek division and discord,” he said.


Qureshi has twice worked pro bono on civil rights cases for Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy group. Farhana Khera, the group’s executive director, called Qureshi “an exceptional nominee.”


“A judiciary that reflects the rich diversity of our nation helps ensure the fair and just administration of the law, and it is vital for American Muslims to be included,” she said in a statement.


To Learn More:

Trump and Cruz Want Muslim Neighborhoods in U.S. “Patrolled and Secured” by Law Enforcement (by Vivian Salama and Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press)

Muslim-Americans in U.S. Military Jolted by Anti-Muslim Sentiment in U.S. (by Steve Straehley and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Anti-Muslim Rhetoric, Once Used Only by Far-Right, Has Now Gone Mainstream Republican (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)


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