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History in the making! The Senate confirmed Zahid Quraishi as the first Muslim-American federal judge in the United States of America. He was nominated by the Biden administration and confirmed by the Senate in an 81-16 vote.
Quraishi was among the first judicial nominations that President Biden had announced in March. It was a diverse slate that included three African American women tapped for Circuit Court vacancies; the first AAPI woman to ever serve on the US District Court for the District of D.C.; and the first woman of color to ever serve as a federal judge for the District of Maryland.
Born in New York City and raised in Fan wood, New Jersey, Quraishi’s parents, Shahida P. Quraishi and Dr. Nisar A. Quraishi are immigrants from Pakistan.
He graduated in 1993 from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. 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.
Zahid Quraishi’s Military Service
In June 2003, Quraishi resigned from his law firm to join the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He attained the rank of captain before being honorably discharged in 2007. During this time, Quraishi was stationed in Germany and deployed twice to Iraq in support of the Iraq War, both in 2004 and 2006.
Zahid Quraishi’s Legal Career
By 2007, Quraishi became an assistant chief counsel in the Chief Counsel’s Office at the United States Department of Homeland Security in New York City. After almost a year, he became an Assistant United States Attorney for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, from 2008 to 2013. Before becoming a judge, Quraishi was an attorney at Morristown’s Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti, LLP, and was a partner at the firm from 2016 to 2019.
The news of his appointment garnered mixed emotions from the Muslim community as a result of questions arising about Quraishi’s past professional experience and involvement with the US army as a legal adviser for detention operations in Iraq and with ICE.
As reported by NPR, ahead of Quraishi’s confirmation, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., lauded his patriotism and said voting him in would be a reflection of America’s ideal of religious freedom.
Only time will reveal the legacy Zahid Quraishi is bound to create as a Federal Judge – being the first-ever Muslim on the bench should not make him a marked man. We hope people rise above petty speculations and join us in congratulating him and wishing him well on his new appointment.
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