US groups celebrate first Muslim woman to serve as federal judge

Confirmation of Nusrat Jahan Choudhury as a federal judge in New York is a significant first for US Muslim community.

Nusrat Jahan Choudhury
The confirmation of Nusrat Jahan Choudhury, seen here in a portrait from the ACLU, as a federal judge has been welcomed by civil liberties and Muslim advocacy groups [Courtesy ACLU of Illinois]

US civil liberties and Muslim advocacy groups have welcomed the confirmation of Nusrat Jahan Choudhury, the first Muslim woman and Bangladeshi American to be nominated and confirmed as a federal judge.

The United States Senate voted to confirm Choudhury’s appointment on Thursday, and she will serve as a federal judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

“Today’s long-awaited vote to elevate Nusrat Choudhury to the federal bench is historic for many reasons. Ms Choudhury has devoted her career to ensuring that all people are treated fairly by our legal system,” Omar Farah, executive director of the US-based group Muslim Advocacy, said in a news statement.

“Her confirmation today means that someone who has worked in the civil rights trenches and confronted barriers to justice that exist in too many communities will be making critical decisions as a federal judge.”

Choudhury was nominated by the Biden administration in January 2022, and a number of social justice, civil liberty, and Muslim rights groups supported her nomination.

Her confirmation is a milestone for Muslim representation in the US legal system, which advocates have said has sometimes subjected the country’s Muslim community to discrimination and civil liberties abuses.

Choudhury previously served as legal director of the Illinois branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a prominent US civil liberties organisation, where she has worked on issues such as criminal justice, policing, and government surveillance of Muslim communities.

“Nusrat Choudhury is a trailblazing civil rights lawyer with a remarkable record of advancing equal justice for all in our nation,” Anthony D Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said in a news release welcoming her confirmation.

“Her tireless dedication to civil rights led her to pioneer litigation against practices that punish people for poverty, most notably how efforts to generate local revenue were causing poor people to be jailed for unpaid fines without court hearings,” Romero said.

A letter addressed to Senator Dick Durbin of the Senate Judiciary Committee by several advocacy groups who supported her nomination notes that New York, where Choudhury will serve, is home to some of the largest Muslim and Bangladeshi communities in the country.

“Ms Choudhury’s confirmation would add personal and professional diversity to the court, elements that are sorely needed to increase public trust in the judiciary, and to better equip courts to deliver equal justice,” the letter reads.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who helped push through Choudhury’s nomination, also celebrated the confirmation in a tweet on Thursday.

“Senate Democrats have confirmed 21 Asian American judges to the federal bench—tied with President Obama for the most ever confirmed by a president,” he said. “We will keep going!”

Source: Al Jazeera