Nusrat Chowdhury confirmed as the first Muslim female federal judge in U.S. history

WASHINGTON — Nusrat Chowdhury, a civil rights lawyer, has been confirmed by the Senate as the first Muslim female federal judge in U.S. history.

She will assume her lifetime appointment in Brooklyn federal court in New York after a 50-49 vote on Thursday along party lines.

The confirmation drew praise from the American Civil Liberties Union, where she is the legal director of the ACLU of Illinois. Prior to that post, she served from 2008 to 2020 at the national ACLU office, including seven years as deputy director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program.

In a tweet, the ACLU called her a “trailblazing civil rights lawyer.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who recommended her, said she makes history as the first Bangladeshi American as well as the first Muslim American woman to be a federal judge.

“Nusrat Choudhury is a shining example of the American Dream,” Schumer said in a statement. “She is the daughter of immigrant parents, a graduate of Columbia, Princeton, and Yale Law School, and has dedicated her career to making sure all people can have their voices heard in court.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., voted against the appointment, citing her support for criminal justice reform. He said in a statement that some of her past statements call into question her ability to be unbiased toward members of law enforcement.

After finishing law school, Chowdhury clerked in New York City for U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote and 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Barrington Parker Jr.

She has served on the Presidential Task Force on Building Public Trust in the American Justice System.

Her appointment was consistent with President Joe Biden’s pledge to emphasize diversity in background, race and gender in his judicial nominations.

Two years ago, the Senate confirmed the nation’s first federal Muslim judge, Zahid Quraishi, to serve as a district court judge in New Jersey. Quraishi’s first day on the job at a New York law firm was Sept. 11, 2001. He would go on to join the Army’s legal arm and served two deployments in Iraq.