Biden nominee would be first Muslim on federal appellate court in U.S. history

President Biden announced Wednesday he will nominate Adeel A. Mangi, a Harvard- and Oxford-trained lawyer, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, based in Philadelphia. If confirmed by the Senate, Mangi would become the first Muslim American to serve on a federal appellate court in U.S. history.

The move comes more than two years after Biden nominated the first Muslim to a federal district court, Zahid N. Quraishi, who was confirmed by the Senate for a judgeship in New Jersey.

Mangi was among eight judicial nominees announced by the White House on Wednesday. In a statement, the White House referred to them as “extraordinarily qualified, experienced, and devoted to the rule of law and our Constitution.”

The White House said the nominations help fulfill Biden’s pledge to “ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds.”

Also nominated to the appellate court was Nicole G. Berner, a lawyer for the Service Employees International Union. The other nominees announced Wednesday include Judge Amy M. Baggio of Oregon and Indiana judges Cristal C. Brisco and Gretchen S. Lund for district court judgeships; and Judge Sherri Beatty-Arthur, Erin C. Johnston and Ray D. McKenzie for the District of Columbia Superior Court.

Biden has sought to diversify the pool of people serving on the federal bench around the country. According to a Washington Post analysis in June 2021, Biden nominated as many minority women to be judges in his first four months as President Donald Trump was able to get confirmed in four years.

The nomination of Mangi coincides with a backlash against Biden among Arab Americans following his declaration of unwavering support for Israel following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants. In recent weeks, Biden has faced growing calls to pressure Israel to curtail its bombardment and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Mangi graduated from the University of Oxford with a bachelor’s degree in law in 1998, and from Harvard Law School in 2000, according to his biography at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, the law firm he joined in 2000 and where he is now a partner.

Mangi has written a number of amicus briefs in recent years that sought to block key initiatives of the previous administration, including a travel ban aimed at Muslim-majority countries, diverting federal funds to a build a wall on the southern border and an attempt to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Biden nominated Quraishi, a federal magistrate judge and the son of Pakistani immigrants, in June 2021. He was confirmed by the Senate, 83 to 16, for the federal judgeship in New Jersey.

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