Sat. Dec 9th, 2023

A first Muslim judge on a US federal appeals court

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Adeel A. Mangi is a lawyer of Pakistani origin based in New Jersey.

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His name is Adeel A. Mangi and he could make history in the United States. If his nomination is confirmed by the Senate, this 40-year-old could become the first Muslim judge to sit on a federal appeals court in American history.

US President Joe Biden announced several appointments of new judges earlier this week, including that of Mr. Mangi.

Of Pakistani origin and based in New Jersey, the lawyer is a graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, and is currently associated with the large New York firm Patterson Belknap.

Adeel A. Mangi is expected to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which includes districts from the states of New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

We are really happy with this news, says the president of the American Muslim Bar Association, Bilal Ezzeddine, reached by telephone. We believe that the judiciary, especially at the federal level, must reflect the diversity of the society it serves. Judges must draw on a diversity of life experiences to resolve conflicts in the cases they are called upon to judge.

Mr. Mangi made headlines in 2017 and 2018, when he defended two Islamic societies that were suing small New Jersey towns for refusing to build a mosque on their land.

In both cases, Mr. Mangi managed to get regulations signed which allowed the Islamic societies concerned to obtain, in total, more than one million bucks. Mosque construction projects were thus able to move forward.

The lawyer also helped challenge an executive order, dubbed the Muslim Travel Ban, adopted during the administration of former President Donald Trump. This decree, revoked by Joe Biden as soon as he came to power, prohibited residents of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering American territory.

Mr. Mangi's appointment makes sense to Craig Green and Jane Manners, professor and assistant professor, respectively, at Temple University's Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia.

This is a landmark moment that reflects Mr. Biden's efforts to diversify the federal judiciary in terms of ethnicity and gender, maintains Ms. Manners.

Since the start of his mandate, the president has made more than 150 appointments of judges, the vast majority of whom are women or people from cultural diversity. The best known is Ketanji Jackson Brown, who in 2022 became the first black woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court.

But it's difficult to predict how judges will decide based solely on what they look like or their past experiences, Manners notes. In this regard, she gives the example of two former Supreme Court justices who are now deceased, William J. Brennan Jr. and Antonin Scalia, both Catholics. The first was known for his progressive positions, while the second is considered one of the most influential conservatives in the recent history of the institution.

Still, Mr. Mangi has a track record of defending civil rights and has defended clients from the LGBTQ+ community, notes Ms. Manners, leading many observers to characterize his record as progressive.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Professor Craig Green notes that including judges with diverse backgrounds within the federal judiciary is a real project of the Biden administration.

An orientation that contrasts with that of his predecessor, Donald Trump. It would be very difficult to imagine Mr. Trump appointing a Muslim judge in a hypothetical second term, since he did nothing of the sort in his first, Mr. Green said, adding that the Mr. Trump's choices were overwhelmingly skewed toward white men.

No matter the outcome of next year's presidential election, the President of the American Muslim Bar Association remains confident. There are many conservative Muslim lawyers who aspire to serve on a federal court. There is no reason why a Trump administration, or any Republican administration, should not consider them, says Bilal Ezzeddine.

Violette Cantin is the recipient of the Experiencing Journalism Abroad grant from the Fondation de l'UQAM.

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