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Senate confirms Zahid Quraishi as first Muslim American federal judge in U.S. history

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The Senate on Thursday voted 81-16 to confirm Zahid Quraishi as U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey, making him the first Muslim American federal judge in the country’s 244-year history.

Qurashi will be “the first Muslim American to serve as an Article III judge in our history,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote.

The son of Pakistani immigrants, Quraishi was born in New York City and raised in New Jersey, where he earned his law degree from Rutgers Law School. He joined a law firm in 2001, but enlisted in the military after the 9/11 terror attacks.

“Those events of that day inspired Judge Quraishi to consider a career in public service. He applied to the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps where he was commissioned as an officer and attained the rank of captain,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said before the vote, noting that Quraishi served two tours in Iraq and was awarded the Bronze Star and a Combat Action Badge.

After leaving the Army, Quraishi went to work for Department of Homeland Security and then the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey before returning to private practice. In 2019, he was appointed as a U.S. magistrate judge in New Jersey — making him the first Asian-American to serve on the federal bench in the state.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., called on his colleagues to vote for Quraishi, calling him “a person of patriotism who happens to be Muslim.”

“This is history,” Booker said urging his colleagues “to achieve something that should have been achieved a long time ago.”


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