President Obama Nominates First Muslim Federal Judge

By Kenrya Rankin Sep 07, 2016

The U.S. Senate is in a position to make history. Yesterday (September 6), President Barack Obama nominated the first ever Muslim person to serve as a judge in federal court. If confirmed, Abid Riaz Qureshi—who is currently a partner at Washington, DC-based law firm Latham & Watkins—would serve on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

“I am pleased to nominate Mr. Qureshi to serve on the United States District Court bench,” President Obama said in a statement. “I am confident he will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice.”

The Republican-led Senate has been sitting on the president’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland for a record 175 days and counting, and the Judiciary Committee also appears to be dragging its feet on confirming other nominees. Though the last nominated judge listed on the Committee’s website, Brian R. Martinotti, was approved just short of a month after the president submitted his name, eight of the ten nominees before him have been languishing for months.

This nomination comes after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on “Face the Nation” that “it’s possible” that a Muslim judge would treat him unfairly in court because he advocates banning Muslims from entering the United States.

The Indian Express reports that Qureshi is Pakistani-American. If he takes the bench, he will contribute to President Obama’s mission to make the federal judiciary more inclusive. The White House reports that he has appointed more Black women, Latinxs and AAPI judges than any other president.

Legal advocacy group Muslim Advocates applauded the nomination. “I commend President Obama for taking this important step in continuing to pick the best and brightest from every community to serve as part of our nation’s judiciary,” Executive Director Farhana Khera said in a statement. “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. Mr. Qureshi’s profound commitment to the rule of law and justice for people of all backgrounds makes him an exceptional nominee.”