First Muslim American to become federal judge

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WASHINGTON: The US Senate on Thursday voted for the nomination of Zahid Quraishi, a son of Pakistani immigrants, to be a federal judge in the US Court, New Jersey.

“Once confirmed, Mr Qureshi of New Jersey will be the first Muslim American in US history to serve as an article 3 federal judge,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin told the senators while introducing Mr Qureshi.

The 83-16 vote with one abstention cuts-short the nomination debate and paves the way for his confirmation later this week. He will be the third judicial nominee of US President Joe Biden to receive a floor vote.

Mr Quraishi was born in New York City, and raised in Fanwood, New Jersey by his parents Shahida P. Quraishi and Dr. Nisar A. Quraishi, immigrants from Pakistan. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1997, and his Juris Doctor from Rutgers Law School in 2000. He also served as a magistrate judge in New Jersey but in 2021 he became a district judge.

On March 30, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Mr Quraishi to serve as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. On April 19, his nomination was sent to the Senate. On April 28, 2021, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on his nomination and approved it on May 20 by a 19–3 vote.

“Judge Qureshi has had an amazing public service career,” said Senator Durbin while introducing the nominee. After graduation, he joined a law firm in his home state of New Jersey but “his time in the private sector was cut short by a strange, tragic twist of faith,” the senator added. His first day at work was September 11.

“Those events of that day inspired Judge Qureshi to consider a career in public service,” Mr Durbin said, adding that he applied to the US Army Judge Advocate General corps after 9/11 and was commissioned as an officer and attained the rank of captain. Judge Qureshi was twice deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2006. For his service, he was awarded the bronze star and the combat action badge.

After leaving the army, Judge Qureshi continued to work in public service. First as an assistant chief counsel in the US Department of Homeland Security and then as a federal prosecutor in the US Attorney’s office for the district of New Jersey.

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