Islamophobic Smear Campaign Against ‘Historic’ Judicial Nominee Condemned

“We urge senators to assess Mr. Mangi’s nomination based on his credentials and qualifications for the job, not his religion, race, or ethnicity.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 4-2-2024 by Common Dreams

Adeel Mangi speaks at his U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on December 13, 2023. (Photo: Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA/via Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 4.0)

A coalition of over 125 rights groups on Tuesday urged the U.S. Senate to vanquish an onslaught of Islamophobic attacks and confirm Adeel Mangi, who would be the first Muslim American to serve on a federal appeals court.

As some right-wing Democrats consider joining with Republicans to block his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, the groups explained in a letter to senators that they came together to support the Oxford- and Harvard-educated attorney, “highlight Mr. Mangi’s tremendous qualifications, and condemn the baseless and bigoted attacks being waged against this exceptional and historic nominee.”

“Mr. Mangi is fair-minded, brilliant, and has shown throughout his impressive legal career a steadfast dedication to equal justice for all, and he will be a tremendous judge on the 3rd Circuit,” the coalition wrote of the Pakistani-born partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in December.

Given his “impeccable qualifications” and the historic nature of his nomination, “an outstanding nominee like Adeel Mangi should be celebrated and embraced,” the coalition argued. “The anti-Muslim tropes and unfounded assertions against him are the kinds of stereotyping that have long driven Islamophobia, which is on the rise. They also send a dangerous message to communities across the nation and potential future lawyers and judges that their path to the bench and desire to serve our nation will be obstructed by unfounded accusations based solely on their identity.”

Since Israel responded to the Hamas-led October 7 attack by launching a U.S.-backed assault on the Gaza Strip that has been widely condemned as genocidal, there have been documented surges in both Islamophobic and antisemitic attacks in the United States. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Tuesday that it received 8,061 complaints of Islamophobia nationwide last year—the most in CAIR’s 30-year history—and they were largely driven by the war.

“Despite the anti-Muslim vitriol Mr. Mangi endured during his confirmation hearing, he repeatedly while under oath condemned antisemitism and terrorism with tremendous decorum and professionalism befitting the temperament sought for these important appointments to the federal bench,” notes the letter. “He did so despite facing unfair, unfounded, and hostile questions, many of which were deeply offensive. Further, since his hearing, there has been a coordinated media campaign to amplify baseless attacks on his character.”

“We urge senators to assess Mr. Mangi’s nomination based on his credentials and qualifications for the job, not his religion, race, or ethnicity. We ask that senators denounce the Islamophobic attacks on Mr. Mangi and on all Muslims,” the letter concludes. “History will remember this powerfully important moment for the future of equal justice in America.”

Led by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the coalition also includes the American Federation of Teachers, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Center for Constitutional Rights, Disability Rights Advocates, Earthjustice, Human Rights Campaign, Muslim Advocates, NAACP, National Congress of American Indians, National Homelessness Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America,, and Women’s March.

Along with several other national organizations, there are state and local groups such as Equality California, Florida Rising, Maine Conservation Voters, Make the Road Nevada, Progress Iowa, Stand Up Alaska, and multiple arms of the NAACP and National Council of Jewish Women.

The White House maintains support for Mangi. Asked about Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) opposing him, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that “we are doing everything that we can to make sure that he gets through. This Senate should side with qualities that make America exceptional, which Mr. Mangi embodies, not the hateful forces that we’re seeing trying to force America into the past.”

President Joe Biden’s nomination of Mangi was announced on the same day as that of Nicole Berner, who previously worked for Planned Parenthood and the Service Employees International Union before she was confirmed to the 4th Circuit last month.

In a Monday op-ed for The Star-Ledger, Mattan Berner-Kadish—one of Berner’s sons with ex-wife Ruti Kadishwrote: “I am so proud of her and happy that her dream has come to fruition. I am unable, however, to fully celebrate her success.”

“What is happening to Adeel Mangi… is a travesty, and when compared to my mother’s process, puts in stark relief how incredible this nation can be, and how incredibly cruel it can be as well,” Berner-Kadish asserted. “This is a kind, sweet, intelligent man who was thoroughly qualified to be a judge in this country—a judgment confirmed by the American Bar Association, which gave him its highest rating.”

“I have no qualms saying that I hope 1,000 more judges like my mother are confirmed around the country. I don’t mean lesbians, I don’t mean Jews. I mean lawyers who are committed to pursuing public interest careers,” he stressed. “I want judges who know what a day of work means for the average American, and how their companies and bosses treat them. I want judges who fought to keep innocent people out of jail. I want judges who worked to protect women’s right to control their own bodies. I want judges who did not remove themself or their children from public schools, and know what education looks like for those who attend them. I want our judges to reflect America’s diversity and experience.”

“For all of those reasons, Adeel Mangi should be a judge right now,” Berner-Kadish added. ” I don’t know if I would agree with all of his rulings, and I doubt he’d be as much of a liberal jurist as I would like. But there is no doubting his qualifications, his professionalism, his fairness, or his judicial temperament. Those aren’t the things keeping him off the bench. Racism and Islamophobia are.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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