Adeel Abdullah Mangi
Adeel Abdullah Mangi

WASHINGTON: The confirmation prospects for Adeel Abdullah Mangi, a Pakistani American nominated by President Joseph Biden for a US circuit judge of Appeals, seem increasingly precarious as partisan divisions deepen in the Senate.

With Democrats holding only a slim 51-to-49 majority in the Senate and lacking Republican support, Mangi faces challenges securing the simple majority needed for confirmation. If confirmed, Mangi would make history as the first Muslim American to serve as a judge on an appeals court, which has the final say on most federal legal disputes.

Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Joe Manchin recently declared their opposition to Mangi’s nomination. Cortez Masto cited Mangi’s affiliation with the Alliance of Families for Justice, a non-profit organisation advocating for criminal justice reform, particularly regarding cases involving individuals convicted of killing law enforcement officers. She stated, “I cannot support this nominee.”

Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana led a campaign against Mangi’s confirmation, labeling him as one of President Biden’s worst picks. Kennedy criticised Mangi’s ties to the Alliance of Families for Justice and alleged connections to individuals with extremist backgrounds.

With Democrats’ 51-49 majority in Senate, he faces challenges securing simple majority

Republicans also accused Mangi of sympathising with organisations like the Rutgers Centre for Security, Race, and Rights, claiming that this group sponsored events featuring speakers linked to terrorism.

The White House condemned the attacks on Mangi as an Islamophobic smear campaign. White House spokesman Andrew Bates stated, “Mr Mangi, who has lived the American Dream and proven his integrity, is being targeted by a malicious and debunked smear campaign solely because he would make history as the first Muslim to serve as a federal appellate judge.”

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin criticised the targeting of Mangi based on his Muslim faith, asserting, “I cannot be silent as I watch, in horror, as Adeel Mangi is ruthlessly targeted by members of the United States Senate.”

Sheila Katz of the National Council of Jewish Women also condemned the targeting of Mangi based on his faith, stating, “It was a heartbreaking scene for the first Muslim American federal circuit judicial nominee to face relentless questioning.”

The largest police organisation in New York, the Police Conference of New York, opposes Mangi’s nomination, joining 10 other law enforcement organisations. They expressed concerns about the Alliance of Families for Justice’s stance on cop-killers and its call for their release.

Mangi’s confirmation now hinges on bipartisan support, with some Republican senators needing to cross party lines to back his nomination. However, there’s no indication of this occurring as opposition from both sides of the aisle leaves his nomination in jeopardy.

In a letter to Senator Cory Booker, Mangi refuted allegations made against him, emphasising that any suggestion of sympathy for attacks on law enforcement is false. He condemned violence against law enforcement officers unequivocally and urged law-enforcement organisations to retract their claims, emphasising that the allegations are based on misinformation.

Supporters, including New Jersey’s Attorney General Platkin, argue that Mangi’s commitment to justice and respect for law enforcement is evident in his work and statements. They assert that his nomination deserves fair consideration based on facts and merits.

The White House criticised Republican senators for what they termed “cruel and Islamophobic attacks” during Mangi’s nomination hearing. Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Tom Cotton were singled out for a line of questioning perceived as malicious. The group accused Mangi of associating with an organisation that purportedly taught students to hate Israel and America, which the White House attributed to Islamophobia.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) criticised Republican senators for subjecting Mangi to aggressive questioning unrelated to his professional expertise or qualifications. They accused senators of berating Mangi with endless questions motivated by bias towards his religion.

In response, Mangi denounced terrorism and antisemitism and clarified his role in the advisory board. He stated that the board focused on academic research and that he did not conduct research on events, speakers, or topics unrelated to him.

The confirmation of Mangi remains uncertain, with bipartisan support needed to secure his nomination amid ongoing controversy and partisan divides in the Senate.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2024

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