President Barack Obama just reportedly did what no president has ever done before
Posted September 15, 2016
President Barack Obama just nominated the first-ever Muslim-American to the federal judiciary.
The president released a statement announcing the nomination of Abid Riaz Qureshi to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia — a move that immediately drew praise among some Muslim legal advocates.
"I am pleased to nominate Mr. Qureshi to serve on the United States District Court bench," Obama said in a statement. "I am confident he will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice."
This marks the first time a U.S. president has nominated a Muslim to serve on the federal judiciary and "carries a symbolic value" amid a contentious presidential campaign in which Islam has been at the center of debate, The Huffington Post reported.
Qureshi — a graduate of Harvard Law School and Cornell University — is a partner at Latham & Watkins LLP, a law firm in Washington, D.C., where he specializes in health care fraud, the False Claims Act and securities violations, according to a biography published on WhiteHouse.gov.
The attorney, who was born in Pakistan, has been a partner at the firm since 2006 and has overseen its pro bono work there since 2012.
As The Guardian noted, there are reportedly no Muslims among the more than 3,000 federal judges who serve on the bench.
Despite Obama's historic move, it is unlikely Qureshi will be confirmed before the November elections, as Republicans have all but halted federal judicial nominees. It's possible the attorney could be re-nominated next year pending a victory for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, though that's not guaranteed.
Latham & Watkins LLP chairman Bill Voge released a statement praising Qureshi as "an exceptional litigator who has represented clients before state and federal courts (at the district and appellate levels), before national and international arbitral tribunals, and before state and federal regulators," according to The National Law Journal.
Voge went on to say that Qureshi practices with "the highest level of integrity" and that he has made many contributions to the firm.
Muslim Advocates, an advocacy and education group, also released a statement praising Obama for Qureshi's nomination. Farhana Khera, executive director of the organization who also served as counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, said it is an important example of Islamic inclusion.
"A judiciary that reflects the rich diversity of our nation helps ensure the fair and just administration of the law, and it is vital for American Muslims to be included," Khera 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 comes amid a heated election season — one in which Republican candidate Donald Trump said that he would ban Muslim immigration before softening that stance to now say that he will engage in extreme vetting of people coming from countries that have been impacted by terror.
Trump also said in June that he had concerns that a hypothetical Muslim judge might not treat him fairly in court due to his hardline stance on immigration.
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