A son of Pakistani immigrants has just been confirmed as the first Muslim American federal judge in U.S. history.
Zahid Quraishi was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey by a Senate vote of 81-16 on Thursday.
“Another barrier has been broken, and it has been broken in New Jersey,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement.
Quraishi’s father, Nisar, emigrated to New York from Pakistan in 1970. The elder Quraishi opened a medical practice and continued seeing patients until he died of complications from coronavirus in April 2020.
Quraishi, a graduate of Rutgers Law School, served two tours in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2006. In 2019, he was appointed as a U.S. magistrate judge for the District of New Jersey — the first Asian-American to serve on the federal bench in New Jersey.
He’s part of Biden’s diverse slate of nominees
In March, Quraishi was among the first judicial nominations that President Biden announced. It was a diverse slate that included three African American women tapped for Circuit Court vacancies; the first AAPI woman to ever serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of D.C.; and the first woman of color to ever serve as a federal judge for the District of Maryland.
Quraishi is the third from the list to be approved by the Senate.
Ahead of Quraishi’s confirmation, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said voting him in would be a reflection of America’s ideal of religious freedom.
“It was such a sacrosanct ideal in principle that our Founders put that into the Constitution,” Booker said.
“Here we are generations and generations later and this will be a real moment of breakthrough of a person who has shown their patriotism.”