Biden nominates NJ attorney to be first Muslim American judge on a federal appeals court

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By Dan Sears

An attorney from New Jersey would become the first Muslim American to serve on a federal court of appeals, under a nomination announced on Wednesday by the White House.

Adeel A. Mangi, a Jersey City resident for more than 20 years, is President Joe Biden’s pick for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in Philadelphia and has jurisdiction over appeals emanating from district courts in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and the Virgin Islands.

Mangi is a partner at the New York-based law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP and has previously served on various nonprofit boards in the Empire State. He also has served on boards for the Muslim Bar Association of New York, the Legal Aid Society of New York, and as an ally board member for the National LGBT Bar Association, according to his biography.

He did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

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Gov. Phil Murphy and New Jersey Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, all Democrats, each issued statements lauding the “historic nomination,” noting that Mangi would be the first Muslim American federal appellate court judge.

Booker called Mangi a “fixture in the New Jersey legal community,” and Menendez said he’d “provide a unique, global perspective at a time when we must continue to diversify our federal judiciary.”

“I have seen firsthand that he is a person of integrity and deep conviction with an unflinching commitment to fairness and equality,” Booker said. “He represents the best of New Jersey.”

Mangi, who was born in Pakistan, received a law degree from the University of Oxford and an LLM from Harvard Law School under the Kennedy Scholarship for British postgraduate students.

Two other Muslims sit on the federal bench, according to Menendez. The nation’s first-ever Muslim American judge, Zahid Quraishi – who was born in New York City and raised in New Jersey — was confirmed to serve on the U.S District Court in New Jersey in 2021. Over the summer, the Senate confirmed Nusrat Choudhury as the first Muslim female district court judge, serving in the Eastern District of New York.

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Mangi has litigated cases on commercial contracts, false advertising, consumer protection and civil rights.

He represented Muslim groups in religious discrimination cases against New Jersey towns that blocked them from constructing mosques. Bernard Township in North-Central Jersey agreed to settle one case for $3.25 million in 2017. And the city of Bayonne, on the border of New York City, agreed to settle another for $400,000 in 2018.

In 2020, Mangi also secured a $5 million settlement in a case involving the death of a prisoner in state custody in the Catskills – the largest state payout in a prison fatality case, according to his biography from Patterson Belknap. The state also agreed to install video cameras and microphones throughout the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, where the 51-year-old man died after a fight with guards.

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