Obama nominates first Muslim federal judge

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the Zika virus during a meeting with health officials in the Oval Office at the White House, July 1, 2016 in Washington, DC.

Story highlights

  • The nomination is to the US District Court
  • Muslim-American activists hailed Obama's move

Vientiane, Laos (CNN)President Barack Obama has nominated a Washington lawyer to the US District Court bench who would become the country's first Muslim-American federal judge if he is confirmed.

Abid Riaz Qureshi is a lawyer at the Latham & Watkins law firm in Washington, specializing in health care fraud and securities violations, according to the White House. Obama nominated him Wednesday to serve on the US District Court for the District of Columbia.
    "I am pleased to nominate Mr. Qureshi to serve on the United States District Court bench," Obama said in a statement. "I am confident he will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice."
    Muslim-American activists hailed the President's move.
    "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," said Nihad Awad, the National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
    Obama has made diversity a priority in his judicial nominations. He's appointed more women, African-Americans and Hispanics to the federal bench than his predecessors, and also worked to name judges with a wider array of work experience.
    But the Senate has been slow in confirming Obama's nominees, and halted any progress on judicial nominations until after Obama's term ends in January, including Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
    That makes it unlikely Qureshi will be confirmed in the months left of Obama's tenure, unless lawmakers take up his nomination in a lame duck session.