Obama Nominates First Muslim-American for Federal Bench

Senate's tight schedule likely a big hurdle, however

HANGZHOU, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 04: President Barack Obama of the US arrives at the Hangzhou Exhibition Center to participate in G20 Summit, on September 4, 2016 in Hangzhou, China. World leaders are gathering in Hangzhou for the 11th G20 Leaders Summit from September 4 to 5. (Photo by Etienne Oliveau/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama's nomination of a Washington, D.C.-based securities and fraud attorney to the federal bench would make him the country’s first Muslim-American judge on a U.S. court.

The president late Tuesday tapped Abid Riaz Qureshi of Maryland to join the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Qureshi is a lawyer for Latham & Watkins LLP, where he has spent his entire career since graduating from Harvard Law School in 1997.

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Whether the Senate will confirm him remains unclear.

One reason is time: The chamber will only be in for a few weeks this month before taking off all of October to campaign, then the remainder of the year will be reserved for a likely contentious sprint toward a year-end spending bill. Another reason could be congressional Republicans’ reluctance to put a career corporate lawyer on a federal bench, and to allow Obama to boast about another “first” for a U.S. president.

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From a visit to Hiroshima, Japan, where America dropped an atomic bomb during World War II, to appointing multiple women to the U.S. Supreme Court to publishing a scientific paper, the country’s first African-American president has emphasized breaking new ground.

“I am pleased to nominate Mr. Qureshi to serve on the United States District Court bench,” the president said. “I am confident he will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice.”

Contact Bennett at johnbennett@cqrollcall.com. Follow him on Twitter @BennettJohnT.

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