Senate confirms Zahid Quraishi as 1st Muslim American federal judge

·Reporter
·2-min read
Zahid Quraishi is sworn in during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP)
Zahid Quraishi is sworn in for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 28. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP)

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Zahid Quraishi to the District Court of New Jersey, making him the first Muslim American federal judge in U.S. history.

Quraishi received bipartisan support with an 81-16 vote, including 32 Republicans who crossed party lines to approve his nomination. In April, President Biden nominated Quraishi to replace Judge Peter Sheridan, who is on senior status.

The son of Pakistani immigrants, Quraishi was born in New York City and raised in Fanwood, N.J. After earning his law degree from Rutgers Law School, Quraishi joined the firm LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae. His first day of work was the day of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an event that prompted him to enlist in the military.

“Those events of that day inspired Judge Quraishi to consider a career in public service.” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said before the vote. “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.” Quraishi was deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2006. For his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star and a Combat Action Badge.

(Tom Williams/Pool via AP)
Quraishi at his confirmation hearing in April. (Tom Williams/Pool via AP)

After leaving the Army, Quraishi worked as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey for five years and as an assistant chief counsel at the Department of Homeland Security. In 2019, he was appointed as a magistrate judge for the District Court of New Jersey, becoming the first Asian American to serve on the federal bench in the state.

Upon his confirmation, Quarishi received congratulations from a number of progressives and Democrats. “Congrats to Judge Zahid Quraishi on his historic confirmation to the U.S. District Court of New Jersey!” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., tweeted. “Zahid’s character, skill and expertise as a jurist, and his longstanding service to our state and country make him an excellent addition to the court.” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also took to Twitter to share their support.

Quraishi is among Biden’s first judicial nominations, a diverse roster of 11 judges who would continue to make history if confirmed. These include Judge Florence Pan, who would be the first Asian American woman on the District Court in the District of Columbia, and Judge Lydia Griggsby, who would be the first woman of color to serve as a federal judge in Maryland.

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