Obama Nominates First Muslim Federal Judge

President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated Abid Riaz Qureshi to be a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. If appointed, Qureshi would be America’s first Muslim federal judge.

“I am pleased to nominate Mr. Qureshi to serve on the United States District Court bench,” the president said. “I am confident he will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice.”

Qureshi is a lawyer in Washington who specializes in healthcare fraud, the False Claims Act and securities violations. He has worked at Latham & Watkins LLP since he began his career and took on the role of global chair for the firm’s Pro Bono Committee in 2012. Since 2015, he has served on the District of Columbia Bar Association’s Legal Ethics Committee. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School cum laude in 1997 with his J.D. and summa cum laude from Cornell University with his B.A. in 1993.

Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy group for which Qureshi has worked on two pro bono civil rights cases, praised the president’s nomination.

“A judiciary that reflects therich diversity of our nation helps ensure the fair and just administration of the law , and it is vital for American Muslims to be included,” Farhana Khera, the group’s executive director, said. “Mr. Qureshi’s profound commitment to the rule of law and justice for people of all backgrounds makes him an exceptional nominee.”

“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,” said Nihad Award, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Bill Voge, chair and managing partner of Latham & Watkins, said Qureshi “practices with the highest level of integrity and has made significant contributions to our firm.”

Obama has been notably diverse in his nominations for federal and Supreme Court justices (two of the three Supreme Court justices he nominated were women, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor being the first Hispanic and fourth woman to serve). However, the Senate has stalled progress on confirming the president’s nominations until his term ends.

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