Written by Don Byrd
When the U.S. Senate considers a nominee for a federal judgeship, or any presidential appointment for that matter, one factor that should never enter into the confirmation process is that person’s religion or religious beliefs. One’s faith does not reflect one’s fitness to serve in government (or lack thereof).
President Obama’s nomination of Abid Riaz Qureshi this week to the federal bench as a district judge marks the first ever federal judicial appointment of a Muslim nominee. While that says nothing in itself of his fitness or qualifications to be a federal judge, breaking down this barrier sends a powerful message about religious liberty in America. There are no religious tests for government service, and no reason why the religious makeup of the federal judiciary should not reflect the religious diversity of the country.
Now that he has been appointed, the Senate should evaluate Qureshi’s credentials in the same way they treat all federal nominees, including his views on religious freedom and the First Amendment. One trait that need not be discussed is his own personal faith. But every American should celebrate the fact, reflected in his selection, that religious liberty in this country means all are able to use their talents and abilities to serve and participate freely and equally in our democracy.
For more information on Qureshi, see the Washington Post report on his nomination.