WASHINGTON — Barack Obama has nominated a Muslim attorney to the federal court circuit, who if approved, would be the first Islamic judge in American history.
Abid Qureshi serves in Washington, D.C. at the law firm Latham & Watkins LLP, where he specializes in cases involving the False Claims Act, health care fraud and securities violations. A graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School, Qureshi has been a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association’s Legal Ethics Committee for the past year.
He has twice partnered with the group Muslim Advocates to defend Islamic rights in court.
“When two Muslim comedians successfully sued for the right to post their humorous advertisements about their religion in the New York subway, Qureshi represented them,” the Washington Post reports.
Quereshi also wrote a legal brief in defense of a Muslim man who had his laptop seized by customs officials at Dulles International Airport.
“He obviously has an interest in these issues because of his own faith,” Muslim Advocates Director Farhana Khera told the outlet. “He’s a very sharp legal mind, and he has a deep commitment to not only pro bono work, but I think to fairness and justice for people of all backgrounds.”
On Tuesday, the White House issued a press release advising that Qureshi had been nominated to sit on the bench of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
“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.”
The announcement was applauded by Islamic groups.
“The nomination of Abid Qureshi to fill a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sends a message of inclusion that is welcomed by the American Muslim community and by all Americans who value diversity and mutual respect at a time when some seek division and discord,” CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad remarked in a statement.
“If confirmed, Qureshi will join the hundreds of thousands of American Muslims serving their fellow citizens and the nation,” he said.
But others expressed concern, including Andrew Bieszad of Shoebat.com.
“This Muslim being nominated, Abid Qureshi, is a Pakistani with a history of arguing pro-Muslim cases in court,” he said in a blog post this week. “It is no surprise why Obama picked him for this position- because his sympathies towards Islam would become the deciding factor in his judicial rulings.”
“Even if this judge’s background is spotless and patriotism unquestionable, this appointment bodes ill for the future. The Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton, deny that jihad terror has anything to do with Islam,” also said Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch. “How will they be able to vet potential judicial appointees who are Muslim for sympathies to a jihad they don’t admit exists, much less Shariah supremacism and more?”
Qureshi’s nomination is now in the hands of Congress for approval.