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Obama Nominates First Muslim for Federal Judge Position

Wooden gavel barrister, justice conceptPresident Barack Obama recently nominated Pakistani-American Abid Qureshi to serve on the the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, marking the first time a Muslim person has been considered for a federal judiciary position.

Qureshi has served as the Global Chair of the Pro Bono Committee at law firm Latham and Watkins LLP since 2012. He has been a partner at the firm since 2006, with a law degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University. Since 2015, Qureshi has also served on the District of Columbia Bar Association’s Legal Ethics Committee.

“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.”

With just months left in Obama’s term and a Republican-leaning Senate Judiciary Committee, it’s unlikely that Qureshi’s nomination will pass before the end of the year. However, the gesture itself remains significant as a watershed moment for Muslim-American visibility during a volatile political season.

“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,” said executive director of Muslim Advocates, Farhana Khera, 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.”

Born in Pakistan, Qureshi is a far cry from the usual sea of white faces among the federal court bench, such as former New Jersey United States District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh, who served as Judge from 2000 to 2014 and as Magistrate from 1993 to 2000. Qureshi would fill the position left vacant by Rosemary M. Collyer, who will assume the Senior Judge position for the District of Columbia.

Qureshi’s nomination has been speculated for months. If not passed this year, he could be re-nominated by the next president in January.

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