President Barack Obama became the first president in U.S. history to nominate a Muslim-American judge to serve in U.S. District Court.
Abid Riaz Qureshi, a Washington D.C.-based lawyer, would serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia if confirmed by the Senate.
“I am pleased to nominate Mr. Qureshi to serve on the United States District Court bench,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “I am confident he will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice.”
Muslim-American groups cheered the decision.
“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,” Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group, said in a statement.
Although Muslims have served as judges at the state level, Qureshi would be the first Muslim to serve as a federal judge, according to the legal advocacy organization Muslim Advocates.
Qureshi’s nomination comes right in the midst of a presidential race in which Muslims are the subject of much debate. Presidential nominee Donald Trump has called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country until they are properly screened.
It is unclear whether or not Qureshi’s nomination will make it out of the Senate with just a few months to go in Obama’s term.
Qureshi currently works for the firm Latham & Watkins LLP on health care fraud and securities violations. He graduated from Harvard Law School cum laude in 1997.