The Senate June 10 confirmed the appointment of Zahid Quraishi to be a federal judge in the District of New Jersey, becoming the first Muslim American to achieve such a post.
The vote to confirm Quraishi was bipartisan, with a final tally of 81-to-16.
"Mr. Quraishi will be the first American Muslim in United States history to serve as an Article III federal judge," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said June 9 in floor remarks ahead of the vote.
"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 will set out to do," Schumer said, noting how Quraishi is a "powerful" example of this, according to a CNN report.
Prior to his confirmation, Quraishi was serving as a United States magistrate judge in New Jersey. According to his biography, he is of Pakistani ancestry and has the distinction of being the first Asian-American to serve on the federal bench in New Jersey, his bio notes.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association June 11 in a statement congratulated both Quraishi and Regina M. Rodriguez on their historic confirmations by the U.S. Senate as United States District Court Judges.
Rodriguez will become the first Asian Pacific American judge to sit on the District Court for the District of Colorado, and the first to serve as an Article III judge within the 10th Circuit.
“Regina Rodriguez and Zahid Quraishi represent the promise of justice, equity, and opportunity that is so critical for the success of our federal judiciary,” said A.B. Cruz III, president of NAPABA.
“NAPABA applauds the Senate for the strong bipartisan confirmation of these two highly qualified and experienced nominees.”
Quraishi has a distinguished legal career with extensive experience as a prosecutor, in the private sector, and serving his country in uniform.
In 2019, Judge Quraishi was appointed as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of New Jersey.
His previous government service includes over five years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey and as a decorated military prosecutor with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Quraishi is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He received a J.D. from Rutgers Law School in Newark.
Quraishi was endorsed by NAPABA’s affiliate, the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey.
Ahead of the confirmation vote, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on his Senate colleagues to support Quraishi’s nomination.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin highlighted Quraishi’s distinguished career in public service and his service as a U.S. Magistrate Judge.
“Zahid Quraishi has had an amazing public service career and since 2019, he has served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge… he will be the first Muslim-American in U.S. history to serve as an Article III federal judge,” Durbin said.
“… His time in the private sector was cut short by a strange, tragic twist of fate. His first day of work was Sept. 11, 2001. The events of that day inspired Judge Quraishi to work in public service. He was a commissioned officer and was twice deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2006,” Durbin added, according to transcripts provided in a news release from his office. “For his service, he was awarded the combat star and combat action badge. He continued to work in public service, first as an assistant chief counsel in the Department of Homeland Security and then in the U.S. Attorney’s office.”
Last month, Quraishi advanced out of Committee by a vote of 19-3 with Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, Mike Lee, Tom Cotton, John Kennedy, Thom Tillis and Marsha Blackburn voting “aye” with all Committee Democrats.