Biden nominates first Muslim federal judge: why courts are integral to American society

Lina B.

Date published: Tue, 30 March 21

President Joe Biden has announced the nomination of Zahid Quraishi to the US District Court of New Jersey. If Quraishi is confirmed by the Senate, he will be the first Muslim American to serve as a federal district judge, as reported by The National News. 

Biden says, “This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession. Each is deeply qualified to deliver justice faithfully under our constitution and impartially to the American people- and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience and perspective that makes our nation strong.”

As a Pakistani American, if nominated, Quraishi will not only be the first Muslim American to serve as federal district judge, but he will also be the first Asian American to sit on federal bench in New Jersey. 

As a federal judge, Quraishi would be a part of the judicial system, making decisions that affect every-day people. Judges and the larger judicial system exist as a form of legitimizing laws, as well as acting as a checks and balance for the legislative and executive branches. 

District courts are an integral part of the United States’ judicial system. The U.S. District courts are 94 in total. District court judges usually are on a panel of three judges who determine whether or not the law was applied correctly. District courts are also known as trial courts. Many trial courts can take appeals from decisions of federal administrative agencies. Most cases that are heard in federal courts start at the district court level. District court judges review petitions, hear and hold trials, hear motions, and issue judicial orders. 

Court judges not only decide cases, but they set precedence by their decisions. This precedent can be used in future court cases that are similar. Courts are meant to protect against abuses by people, and governments as well.

District courts are important furthermore, as they serve as a stepping stone into the Supreme Court. Although the Supreme Court accepts less than 1% of cases that are submitted to it, the cases accepted all start at the district court level. Cases lost from the district court can be appealed to the Circuit court, which if lost again, can be appealed to be heard in the Supreme Court. 

As his approval is pending, Quraishi will hopefully serve as a judge that upholds the law fairly and justly. The judicial system’s role in upholding a fair and just society cannot be undermined; it is necessary, then, to have a diverse array of experience, perspective, and phenomenological understanding in place of the decision-makers.