Zahid N. Quraishi 45 of New York City was confirmed by the U.S senate as the first Muslim-American in the nations history to serve on a federal district court as an Article III judge. The federal courts were first created over 230 years ago.
The vote 83-to-16 was bipartisan, with 34 Republicans crossing party lines to join all present Democrats in voting in favour of Quraishi1. Quraishi’s nomination intent was announced by U.S President Joe Biden on the 30 March 2021. This was to serve as the United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey2.
After his announcement by President Biden, Quraishi acknowledged his history-making status in March and said “I would prefer to be the hundredth, if not thousandth” judge. He further added “I understand what it means to the community”3.
Ahead of the vote on Wednesday 9th June, Senate Majority Chuck Schumer remarked “we must expand not only demographic diversity, but professional diversity, and I know that President Biden agrees with me on this, and this will be something that I set out to do”. He further noted that Quraishi was a powerful example of this4.
Following Senate Confirmation, many Democrats and progressives took to social media to congratulate Quraishi. Senator Cory Brooker for example referred to Judge Quraishi as an “excellent addition to the court”, and Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Senator Gary Peters of Michigan released further congratulatory messages5. Senator Bob Mendez of New Jersey also remarked that he is “a man of integrity, a consummate public servant, a trailblazer for Asian Americans and Muslim Americans across this country“6.
Judge Quraishi is the son of Pakistani immigrant parents. He became the first Asian American to serve on the federal bench in New Jersey when he was appointed to this role in 2019. Born in New York and raised in Fanwood New Jersey, he graduated from Rutgers Law School in 2000 where he then clerked for a judge before taking up work at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP.
Prior to this, Quraishi worked in the private sector and was cut short by his first day of work being September 11, 2001. The events of 9/11 inspired Judge Quraishi to work in public service. He was a commissioned officer and twice deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2006. For this service, he was awarded the combat star and combat action badge7.