On Thursday, the Senate voted 81-16 to confirm Zahid Quraishi as U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey, making him the first Muslim U.S. 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, DN.Y., told the Senate ahead of the vote.
The son of Pakistani immigrants, Quraishi was born in New York and raised in New Jersey, where he received his law degree from Rutgers Law School. He joined a law firm in 2001, but enlisted in the military after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“These events of that day inspired Judge Quraishi to consider a career in public service. He applied to the corps of Judge Advocate General of the United States Army where he was appointed an officer and rose to the rank of captain,” said Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill. ., chairman of the judiciary committee, said before the vote, noting that Quraishi made two tours of Iraq and received the Bronze Star and Combat Action badge.
After leaving the military, Quraishi went to work for the Department of Homeland Security, then for the US Attorney’s Office in New Jersey before returning to private practice. In 2019, he was appointed a U.S. Presiding Judge in New Jersey, making him the first Asian American to sit on the state’s federal bench.
Senator Cory Booker, DN.J., called on his colleagues to vote for Quraishi, calling him “a patriotic person who just happens to be a Muslim”.
“This is ancient history,” Booker said, urging his colleagues “to do something that should have been done a long time ago.”