President Joe Biden announced his latest round of judicial nominees on Wednesday. What’s so exciting about this? Well, the eight nominees Biden chose in his 13th round were not only majority women, but included a Muslim American woman who if confirmed would be the first Muslim American woman to serve as a federal judge. In addition to being the first Muslim American woman to serve in the position if confirmed, Nusrat Jahan Choudhury would also be the first Bangladeshi American to serve as a federal judge.
“A nominee who would be the first Bangladeshi-American, the first Muslim-American woman, and only the second Muslim-American person to serve as a federal judge,” the White House said in a statement on Wednesday, referring to Choudhury.
Choudhury currently serves as the legal director of the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). According to Al Jazeera, she has worked on numerous civil rights cases, including lawsuits challenging the federal government’s No Fly List and the New York Police Department’s surveillance of the city’s Muslim community.
While the organization does not formally endorse judicial or political nominees, the ACLU of Illinois described Choudhury’s nomination as “historic.”
“During her tenure as legal director in Illinois, [Choudhury] has among other things led our legal team in efforts to improve policing in Chicago, protect medically-vulnerable persons detained on immigration charges during the COVID pandemic in Illinois county jails, and challenged unfair practices that drive Chicago residents into bankruptcy to pay fines and fees,” ACLU of Illinois Executive Director Colleen Connell said in a statement.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer formally recommended Choudhury to serve on the federal bench in New York in September 2021, calling her an “expert in civil rights and liberties.” Her nomination was backed by various Muslim advocacy groups in addition to New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Muslim Advocates also thanked Biden for “making this historic nomination happen”.
“At a time when inequalities in the justice system are front and center, Choudhury, who dedicated her career to protecting the civil rights of Muslims and other marginalized communities, would bring legitimacy to the judiciary by pushing it towards justice,” Muslim Advocates said in a statement.
“And at a time when hate and division are driving us apart, Choudhury would serve as an inspiration as the first Muslim woman, first Bangladeshi-American and second ever American Muslim to serve as a Senate-confirmed federal judge.”
Choudhury’s nomination follows the Senate’s confirmation of Zaid Quraishi, the first Muslim to be confirmed as a federal judge in U.S. history. Quraishi serves as a U.S. district judge for New Jersey. Confirmed in June 2021, he was nominated by Biden in March 2021 and is Biden’s third confirmed judicial nominee, Daily Kos reported.
Biden has announced 83 federal judiciary nominees since being sworn in as president. According to NPR, in addition to Quraishi, more than 40 new judges have been confirmed by the Senate, including the first openly LGBTQ+ woman to sit on a federal appeals court: Beth Robinson of Vermont.
Biden’s nominees have proven to be some of the most diverse in U.S. history, with 24 identifying as Black, 17 as Hispanic, and 16 as part of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community,USA TODAYreported.
May we continue to see our country’s leadership diversify. Congratulations Choudhury, we look forward to seeing you confirmed!