On Tuesday, President Barack Obama nominated attorney Abid Riaz Qureshi to serve as a judge for the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. Qureshi is a partner at Latham and Watkins — the highest-grossing law firm in the world.
However, several details regarding Qureshi’s nomination point towards Obama’s announcement being a political stunt intended to boost Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Since the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been adamant that the Senate would not consider any nomination to fill the vacant seat until following the 2016 presidential election.
Obama chose to nominate Merrick Garland anyway, despite McConnell’s vow. But McConnell and Senate Republicans have held firm. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Garland currently stands no chance of being considered.
Further, the Senate GOP is not considering Obama judicial nominations to any court, not just the Supreme Court.
So why would Obama choose to nominate Qureshi? Why now?
The answer might lie in the related issue of why anyone would still be expending effort to have Garland considered.
Today, less than 24 hours following Qureshi’s nomination, an organization has chosen to hold a seemingly quixotic rally in support of Garland on the steps of the Supreme Court.
Which organization? And why bother?
The rally is being sponsored by a little-known organization calling itself Why Courts Matter, which has not been in existence for more than a few months. Why would they bother? Perhaps because Why Courts Matter is better-known by the title of its parent organization: Center for American Progress.
The Center for American Progress is a progressive think tank founded and run by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta.
From the Washington Examiner:
[S]everal lawyers and legal professors who have clerked for Garland at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals are holding a rally for their former boss on the steps of the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
“The Senate’s obstruction on Judge Garland’s nomination is emblematic of the blockade throughout the entire judicial system,” stated Why Courts Matter, the group hosting Wednesday’s rally. “The clerks and advocates will also call on the Senate to act on the backlog of lower court nominees, some of whom have been waiting for months, and even years, for a hearing or a vote on the Senate floor.”
A rally in support of Merrick Garland and Obama’s backlog of unnamed lower court nominees wouldn’t seem to be of much benefit to anyone at all — besides Hillary Clinton. Abid Riaz Qureshi is a Muslim, and would stand to be the first Muslim U.S. judge should he be confirmed. But since he won’t be, the only reasonable worthwhile purpose of Obama’s nomination and the forthcoming rally becomes transparent.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign, steered by John Podesta, has frequently portrayed Donald Trump as a dangerous bigot for his stances regarding screening Muslim refugees attempting to enter the United States.
Specifically, Trump has drawn attention to the incompatibility of Islamic law, Sharia, with the U.S. Constitution.
Rather than address the beliefs and practices that constitute Sharia law as it is practiced throughout the world and encoded within Islamic sources, Hillary Clinton has instead portrayed Trump’s stance as that of a racist or a bigot.
The strategy has proven effective at convincing many voters that Trump should be dismissed for his supposed bigotry.
Now, a Muslim attorney has been nominated to be a U.S. judge, creating an opportunity to question Trump — and perhaps force him into a media stumble — on the specific issue of Islamic law.
And indeed, a U.S. Muslim organization was immediately ready to promote Qureshi’s nomination immediately following Obama’s announcement:
“I commend President Obama for taking this important step in continuing to pick the best and brightest from every community to serve as part of our nation’s judiciary,” stated Farhana Khera, former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and executive director of a Muslim legal advocacy organization [Muslim Advocates]. “A judiciary that reflects the rich diversity of our nation helps ensure the fair and just administration of the law,” she added.
Today, on the steps of the Supreme Court, will the front group overseen by Clinton’s campaign manager draw attention to the nomination of “the first Muslim U.S. judge”?
Today, will a yet-to-be-named New York Times reporter ask Donald Trump if there should be a “religious test” to be a U.S. judge?
And who is Qureshi, anyway? Can we gain any rapid insight into his judicial philosophy as it relates to the issue of Muslim immigrants?
Perhaps, as Qureshi has served as chairman of Latham and Watkins’ pro bono committee for several years.
The below passages are from Latham’s “2015 Pro Bono Annual Review”, a 60-page document which was put together by Qureshi:
[O]ur German lawyers have partnered with immigration law clinics to help refugees understand and exercise their rights.
Almost every Latham lawyer based in Munich, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, and Hamburg participated in a recent training session on asylum law developments, qualifying them to volunteer at refugee law clinics and lead seminars on the asylum application process. Through a partnership with the University of Hamburg’s Refugee Law Clinic, we launched a series of weekly seminars on asylum law for Syrian refugees this year.
Folks, watch what happens at today’s Supreme Court rally, organized by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta.
Will you be watching reality? Or an orchestrated political circus?
And come back later, as we will be reporting on any financial connections between Latham and Watkins, the Clinton Foundation, the Center for American Progress, and the Democratic Party.