By Theresa King
(TEANECK) – On Sept. 7, President Obama nominated Washington lawyer Abid Riaz Qureshi for the US District Court for the District of Columbia. If confirmed, Mr. Qureshi would become the country’s first Muslim-American federal judge in history.
According to the White House, Mr. Qureshi is a lawyer at the Latham & Watkins law firm in Washington, and specializes in health care fraud and securities violations.
“I am confident he will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice,” Obama said in a statement.
Mr. Qureshi received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1993, along with a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1997.
Activists for the Muslim-American community view the nomination as a step towards inclusion for its members in the United States.
“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,” said Nihad Awad, the National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
This nomination of a member of a minority group is not uncommon for Obama, though.
According to Pew Research Center, the current 114th United States Congress is the most diverse in history. Approximately one in five members are a racial or ethnic minority. Nevertheless, Congress is still disproportionately white when compared to the entire U.S. population.
“Overall, non-whites (including blacks, Hispanics, Asian/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans) make up 17% of the new Congress,” according to Pew Research Center, “but that is below these groups’ 38% share of the nation’s population.”
Nevertheless, Obama has made various efforts throughout his time in office to broaden the diversity of the government. According to CNN, he has “appointed more women, African-Americans and Hispanics to the federal bench than his predecessors, and also worked to name judges with a wider array of work experience.”
However, the Senate has stopped any progress on judicial nominations until Obama’s term officially concludes in January. As a result, it is hard to tell if Mr. Qureshi will be confirmed during the last months of Obama’s presidency.