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President Barack Obama nominated a Muslim American to serve as a federal judge in the United States capital. Abid Riaz Qureshi’s nomination comes during a particularly tense presidential election campaign in which race has played a central role. If confirmed, Qureshi would be the first Muslim judge to serve on a federal level. Also Read - Supreme Court Judge Recuses From Hearing Mamata Banerjee's Plea in Narada Sting Tape Case
“I am pleased to nominate Mr. Qureshi to sit 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.” Also Read - CA July Exams 2021: ICAI Makes Big Announcement For COVID-19 Infected Candidates | Details Here
However, it is unlikely that Qureshi’s nomination will be approved. President Obama has only a few months left in the office, and Republican-controlled Senate has stopped the process of confirming any of the presidential picks, including Judge Merrick Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court, which is pending for a record 175 days.
Regardless, President’s nomination brings with it a historic value. Muslim American groups hailed Obama’s nomination especially amid the racially charged election campaign led by GOP nominee Donald Trump who has castigated and proposed a temporary ban of Muslims from entering the country.
“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,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said.
While there have been some Muslim American judges at the state level, there has never been a Muslim judge at the federal level. Muslim advocates hope for a prompt and fair consideration of Qureshi’s nomination by the Senate.
“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,” Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy organization, 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.”
Qureshi has a long and distinguished legal career. He has served as a lead counsel in numerous trials before state and federal courts across the country and represented clients at trials and appellate. He is a litigation partner at the Washington, DC-based law firm Latham & Watkins, where he specializes in cases involving the False Claims Act, health care fraud, and securities violations.
Since 2012, he is serving as the Global Chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee, defending civil rights of Muslim clients among others. He successfully defended the civil rights of two Muslim comedians—Dean Obeidallah and Negin Farsad—against the New York City subway system and the Transportation Security Administration for the right to post their humorous advertisements about their religion,.
Qureshi is also a recipient of the “Champions of Justice” Award in 2012 by the National Law Journal’s Legal Times for upholding the profession’s core values through public service, pro bono work, and advocacy for civil liberties. He received his J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1997 and his B.A. summa cum laude from Cornell University in 1993.
Some claim that Qureshi is not the first Muslim to be nominated, pointing towards Judge Abdul Karim Kallon of Alabama. Kallon, though from a Muslim family, is not a practicing Muslim—he is a Methodist. A Muslim sounding name doesn’t mean one is Muslim—sound like a President you know?