Adeel Mangi

Adeel Abdullah Mangi speaks at his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, December 13, 2023.

(Photo: Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA/via Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 4.0)

'Insufferable Islamophobia': Senate Dems Could Help GOP Tank 1st Muslim Fed Appeals Judge

"A bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Senate is about to nix this judicial nominee because he's Muslim," one advocate said.

Progressive and Muslim rights organizations spoke out in support of federal appellate court nominee Adeel Mangi on Friday after news broke that enough U.S. Senate Democrats might vote with Republicans to scupper his appointment.

President Joe Biden nominated Mangi, a well-respected New York-based trial lawyer, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit on November 15. If confirmed, he would be the first Muslim to serve as a federal appeals judge. However, CNN reported on Thursday that several Senate Democrats and their staff had told the White House that there seemed to be insufficient votes to confirm him.

The news followed a controversial hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in December, in which Mangi, who was born in Pakistan, was asked to comment on both the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. and Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel. While the committee voted to advance him along party lines, the outcome of a full Senate vote is now in question.

"Someone as qualified as Adeel Mangi should have broad and enthusiastic support from the whole Senate."

"A bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Senate is about to nix this judicial nominee because he's Muslim," Jameel Jaffer, the director of Columbia University's Knight First Amendment Institute, posted on social media in response to the news.

Human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid said on social media that the move to vote against him was "insufferable Islamophobia and cowardice."

Rashid pointed out that seven of the judges nominated by former President Donald Trump were rated as "not qualified" by the American Bar Association (ABA), yet the Senate still voted to confirm them. Mangi, on the other hand, is "highly qualified" and "highly rated" and "instead even Senate Democrats are running away from him."

The ABA rates Mangi as "well-qualified," and Benchmark Litigation placed him on its 2024 and 2023 lists of the "Top 100 Trial Lawyers" in the country. He earned law degrees from both Oxford and Harvard and has had a successful career both representing corporate clients at the law firm of Patterson, Belknap, Webb, and Tyler and taking on pro bono cases.

One of his prominent pro bono victories involved Muslim communities who had been barred from building a mosque in two New Jersey towns. In another, he secured a settlement for the family of Karl Taylor, who died in a New York prison after being attacked by guards.

"Someone as qualified as Adeel Mangi should have broad and enthusiastic support from the whole Senate," People for the American Way posted in response to the CNN story. "Mangi has spent his career working pro bono for people who couldn't afford a lawyer and would be the first Muslim judge on the 3rd Circuit."

Muslim advocacy group Emgage Action urged the public to support Mangi's nomination and criticized the "overtly Islamophobic questioning" at his confirmation hearings.

"Call on your senators to swiftly move forward with his confirmation and advocate for Adeel Mangi's suitability for the federal bench!" the group said on social media.

One of the most vocal Republican opponents of Mangi's nomination is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz was the one to ask him if he condemned "the atrocities of the Hamas terrorists," to which Mangi responded that the events of October 7 were "a horror." When Cruz then asked if he thought the attacks could be justified, Mangi answered, "I have no patience, none, for any attempts to justify or defend those events."

Cruz and other Republicans also questioned Mangi on his membership of the advisory board for the Rutgers Center for Security, Race, and Rights, which they claimed supported antisemitism because of speakers it had hosted, as reported. In response, Mangi said the advisory board only met once annually and discussed the center's academic research, not its programming.

At the time, Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats denounced the Republicans' line of questioning on social media.

"Senate Judiciary Republicans reached a new low, hurling unfounded accusations of antisemitism at an historic Muslim American judicial nominee today. In fact, Adeel Mangi is a longtime advocate for religious liberty," the Democratic committee members wrote.

Several Jewish American groups have backed Mangi's nomination, and even the Anti-Defamation League, which has been criticized for adopting an overly broad definition of antisemitism that stigmatizes legitimate criticisms of Israeli policies, defended him against the Republican line of questioning.

"Just as associating Jewish Americans with certain views or beliefs regarding Israeli government actions would be deemed antisemitic, berating the first American Muslim federal appellate judicial nominee with endless questions that appear to have been motivated by bias toward his religion is profoundly wrong," the group wrote in a January statement.

In a social media post on Friday, Cruz seemed to steer his opposition to Mangi away from anything that could be construed as Islamophobic to instead paint him as a radical. Cruz shared a letter opposing his confirmation from the National Troopers Coalition over Mangi's role as an advisory board member of the Alliance of Families for Justice, which supports the family members of incarcerated individuals. However, the coalition argued Mangi's role on the board showed an anti-law enforcement bias.

"He is so far left that even some Democrats are opposing his nomination," Cruz wrote.

In response to the news that Democrats might vote against Mangi, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates told CNN that the administration "continues to fight for his confirmation and to repudiate the vicious hate and bigotry with which he has been targeted because of his Muslim faith."

Bates called Mangi an "extraordinarily qualified nominee who is devoted to the rule of law, lived the American dream through hard work, proven his integrity, and would make history on the bench."

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.