September 21, 2016

STUDENT STORIES | Alumnus Nominated To Serve on United States District Court

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Abid Qureshi ’93 was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia earlier this month. If confirmed, Abid will be the first Muslim-American federal judge.

Qureshi’s nomination “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,” according to Nihad Awad, the executive director of the council on American-Islamic relations.

If Qureshi is confirmed, he will become one of the many thousands of American muslims serving the country, Awad pointed out.

Qureshi is a partner at Latham & Watkins L.L.P. who specializes in health care fraud and securities violations. He served as the Global Chairman of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee, and also worked on the District of Columbia Bar Association’s Legal Ethics Committee for the past year, according to a White House press release.

Known for his contributions to the Muslim community, Qureshi has twice worked pro bono on civil rights cases for Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy group, according to The New York Times.

Wendy Atrokhov JD ’99, public service counsel for Latham & Watkins, said she has worked closely with Qureshi for 17 years. She called Qureshi a “great leader, with skills he undoubtedly developed during his time as an undergrad at Cornell.”

“Abid is loyal, exceptionally thoughtful, confident but humble, decisive but collaborative,” she said. “I’d say that his work ethic is second to no one.”

Atrokhov praised Qureshi as a “brilliant, fair minded, thoughtful, humble” person with “tremendous, unassailable integrity.”

Qureshi’s reputation within the legal community makes him well respected and a strong candidate for the position, according to Atrokhov.

“[Qureshi] has the best possible demeanor and temperament to serve in the judiciary,” she said. “This country would be so fortunate to have someone like Abid on the bench.”

While the vast majority of judges at the district level are confirmed by the Senate due to the protocol of senatorial courtesy, Qureshi’s confirmation remains uncertain in the wake of the body’s unprecedented decision to not hold a hearing for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Recent remarks made by Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump regarding the ethnicities of federal judges serve to make Qureshi’s possible appointment that much more relevant.