- The 46-year-old Pakistani American now holds a lifetime position on a U.S. district court in New Jersey.
The Senate confirmed Zahid N. Quraishi to the District Court of New Jersey on June 10, making him the first Muslim to sit on federal district court. In a rare bipartisan vote, 34 Republicans joined their Democrat colleagues in voting to confirm Quraishi — 83 to16. The 46-year-old Pakistani American now holds a lifetime seat on a U.S. district court in New Jersey.
In his speech on the Senate floor today, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) described Quraishi as “a man of integrity consummate public servant, and a trailblazer for Asian Americans and Muslim Americans across this country who dream of one day presiding over a court of their own.” He later tweeted: “HISTORY MADE: The Senate just confirmed Zahid Quraishi to the federal District Court of New Jersey, making him the first Muslim American in U.S. history to serve as an Article III federal judge.”
His colleague, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in his speech, talked about how Quraishi’s work in the private sector was cut short by a “strange, tragic twist of fate. His first day of work was September 11, 2001. The events of that day inspired Judge Quraishi to work in public service,” Durbin said.
Quraishi got a shoutout from Gov. Phil Murphy and Sen. Cory Booker. “Congratulations to Zahid Quraishi on being confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey – the first Muslim federal judge in our nation’s history,” Murphy tweeted.
“Congrats to Judge Zahid Quraishi on his historic confirmation to the U.S. District Court of New Jersey,” tweeted Booker. “Zahid’s character, skill and expertise as a jurist, and his long standing service to our state and country make him an excellent addition to the court.”
Prior to his appointment as magistrate judge for the District of New Jersey, Quraishi was a partner at Riker Danzig where he chaired the firm’s White Collar Criminal Defense and Investigations Group and served as his firm’s first Chief Diversity Officer. Before joining Riker Danzig, Quraishi served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey from 2008 to 2013.
Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s office, he served as an assistant chief counsel at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He also served as a military prosecutor and achieved the rank of Captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, deploying to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2006.
Earlier in his career, Quraishi worked in private practice and clerked for Judge Edwin H. Stern, of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, from 2000 to 2001. As a native of New York City who was raised in Fanwood, New Jersey, Quraishi earned a degree in criminal justice from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice before attending Rutgers Law School in Newark from 1997-2000.
In law school, he served as managing business editor for the Computer & Technology Law Journal, and as a member of the Rutgers Moot Court Board. He also worked as a teaching assistant for the Legal Research and Writing course. After graduating from law school, Quraishi clerked for the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division and served as an associate at the law firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.
The Senate also voted 52-to-46 to move ahead on the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Jackson, 50, is a former public defender and member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission who has served on the District Court in Washington for eight years. A final vote is expected on June 14. If confirmed, she would replace Merrick Garland, who became President Biden’s attorney general in March.