First Muslim appeals court nominee in doubt

by | Mar 27, 2024

President Biden made history late last year by nominating Adeel Mangi to fill a vacancy on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Mangi would be the first Muslim to serve in the federal appellate judiciary. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced his nomination to the full Senate in January of this year for consideration. During his confirmation hearing, however, several committee members asked questions that seemed to call Mangi’s fitness and loyalty to the United States in question simply because of his faith.

Mangi was asked his personal views on the October 7, 2023, terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel, his views on the Israel-Hamas war generally, and – shockingly – whether he celebrates September 11 to commemorate the 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.

News reports suggest the Senate may not have the votes to confirm Mangi to the bench as the result of a “smear campaign” based in Islamophobia. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., earlier this month went to the Senate floor and decried the effort to block Mangi’s nomination. Here are some of his comments:

“Mr. Mangi is a highly qualified nominee with incredible credentials and more than two decades of litigation experience. … Nevertheless, he has gone through scrutiny unlike anything I have ever seen … Unfortunately, many of the questions that have been raised about Mr. Mangi and his background have created suspicions in people’s minds that his religion is the reason for the questioning. Treatment of this highly qualified nominee has sometimes reached an all-time low”

To be sure, nominees to the federal appeals court – who would enjoy a lifetime appointment to the bench – should undergo rigorous scrutiny of their records. But there is no place for subjecting a nominee to questions that demonstrate hostility to their faith, or otherwise suggesting that being Muslim is incompatible with being a federal judge.

There is no religious test for office in the United States. That’s not just me talking; it’s in the Constitution! The Senate should render a fair vote based on Mangi’s qualifications and fitness for the job.