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Senate Confirms First Muslim Federal Judge in U.S. History (2)

June 10, 2021, 5:25 PMUpdated: June 10, 2021, 8:32 PM

The Senate voted Thursday by an 81-16 margin to confirm District of New Jersey nominee Zahid Quraishi, who would be the first Muslim life-tenured federal judge.

Quraishi, who is currently a magistrate judge, was previously nominated by President Barack Obama, but the Republican-led Senate at the time didn’t take action on his nomination.

He is the third Biden judicial nominee the Senate has confirmed and all three have been former Obama nominees. Senate Democrats and the White House have said they will move quickly on judicial nominations.

The Senate also voted to invoke cloture, or end debate, on Ketanji Brown Jackson‘s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, moving her closer to expected confirmation to the powerful Washington-based court.

Jackson, who is President Joe Biden’s first appellate nominee to advance on the Senate floor, received some bipartisan support in a narrow, 52-46, vote. A successful cloture vote typically indicates a nominee will be confirmed.

Jackson won support from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). A confirmation vote is expected early next week.

Jackson is a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and would fill the D.C. Circuit seat formerly held by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Jackson, who is Black, is considered a favorite for a Supreme Court vacancy, and Biden has said he’d fill it with a Black woman, if given the chance. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is often a springboard for future justices.

The Judiciary Committee also approved District of Maryland nominees Deborah Boardman and Lydia Griggsby on Thursday. Boardman received a party-line, 11-10, vote in which Graham, a member of the committee, didn’t vote. Griggsby received a bipartisan, 16-6, vote.

Biden has so far nominated 19 people for lifetime federal judgeships, plus one nominee for the D.C. Superior Court.

(Updates with additional reporting about Quraishi.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at; John Crawley at