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White House condemns 'hostile' Islamophobic attacks on Muslim judicial nominee

If confirmed, Adeel Mangi would become the first Muslim judge to sit on the federal appeals court in the US
Circuit Court Judge Nominee Adeel Mangi testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on judicial nominations at the US Capitol, on 13 December 2023 (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA)

The White House is criticising three Republican senators for their Islamophobic attacks directed at circuit court nominee Adeel Mangi, who if confirmed, would be the first Muslim American to sit on the federal appeals court.

Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Tom Cotton are being criticised for what the White House described as a "malicious" approach in questioning Mangi during his confirmation hearing in December about his perspectives on the 7 October Hamas-led attack on southern Israel.

During the hearing, Cruz persistently asked if Mangi denounced the 7 October attacks and asked if there was "any justification for those atrocities".

“I have no patience - none - for any attempts to justify or defend those events,” Mangi answered.

On Monday, the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative judicial advocacy organisation, released a statement saying that Mangi, who served on the board of advisors at the Rutgers Law School Center for Security, Race, and Rights, “taught students to hate Israel and America and to support global terrorism, blaming America for the 9/11 terrorist attacks -  and most recently blaming Israel for the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7th.”

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In a statement shared with NBC News, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said that Mangi has been “subjected to uniquely hostile attacks, in a way other nominees have not - precisely because of his Muslim faith.”

He added that the senators owed Mangi an apology.

“He represents the best of America, and when confirmed, Mr Mangi will not only make history -  he will make an outstanding judge,” Bates said.

The senators expressed to NBC News their continued opposition to Mangi's nomination. 

A spokesperson for Cotton accused him in a statement of having "ties to anti-Semites". A spokesperson for Cruz said the White House "can't defend Adeel Mangi's record", while a spokesperson for Hawley stated that "people who advise pro-terrorist campus groups have no place on the federal bench".

Last fall, President Joe Biden nominated Mangi for a judgeship on the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Philadelphia.

Mangi, an American of Pakistani origin, is a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP. He has been a member of the board of directors for the Muslim Bar Association of New York, the Legal Aid Society of New York, and Muslims for Progressive Values.

Mangi has contributed as an ally board member to the National LGBT Bar Association.

Although Mangi has successfully navigated through the Judiciary Committee in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the timeline for when his nomination will progress to the next stage for a vote remains uncertain.

Should his nomination be confirmed, Mangi would become the third Muslim American to ever serve as a federal judge.

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