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

Qureshi’s historic nomination as US District Judge for the District of New Jersey was confirmed by a vote of 81-16.

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

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

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

“Those events of that day prompted Judge Qureshi to consider pursuing a career in public service. He applied to the US Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps where he was commissioned as an officer and held the rank of captain. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said before the vote, noting that Qureshi made two visits to Iraq and was awarded a Bronze Star and a Combat Action Badge.

After leaving the military, Qureshi went on to work for the Department of Homeland Security and then the US Attorney’s office in New Jersey, before returning to private practice. In 2019, he was appointed as a US magistrate judge in New Jersey – making him the first Asian-American To serve on the federal bench in the state.

Sen. Corey Booker, DNJ. asked his colleagues to vote for Qureshi, calling him a “patriotic person who happens to be a Muslim.”

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

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