Nusrat Chaudhury currently serves as a legal director for the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. In 2019 she spoke about debtors’ prisons at the Human Rights in Practice event at Duke University. (Credit: Screenshot from YouTube video posted by Duke University School of Law)

Nusrat Choudhury made history on Thursday when she became the first Muslim woman to be confirmed as a United States federal judge.

The former civil rights attorney, confirmed in a mostly party-line vote of 50-49, will serve the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn. The court is known for a number of noteworthy cases, the most recent one being the indictment of New York Rep. George Santos. 

“Nusrat Choudhury is a shining example of the American Dream,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a statement. “She is the daughter of immigrant parents, a graduate of Columbia, Princeton and Yale Law School, and has dedicated her career to making sure all people can have their voices heard in court.”

Choudhury – who is also the first Bangladeshi American to join the federal judicial branch – currently serves as a legal director for the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Her curriculum vitae is pillared by her pushback of discriminatory police practices, from the Milwaukee Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy to the New York Police Department’s post 9/11 surveillance practices. It’s also worth noting that Chaudhury is only the third ACLU lawyer to go directly to the federal bench – the first one being the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“Nusrat Choudhury is a trailblazing civil rights lawyer with a remarkable record of advancing equal justice for all in our nation,” Anthony Romero, ACLU’s executive director, wrote in a statement

In January 2022, President Joe Biden nominated Choudhury, along with seven other candidates, in order to “ensure that the nation’s court reflects the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a court – both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds,” as per a statement released by the White House. However, a 2022 CNN review of data from the Federal Judicial Center reported that while the federal court has grown more diverse, it still does not accurately reflect the U.S. population. Choudhury is only the second Muslim American federal judge to serve in the U.S. – the first, U.S. District Judge Zahid Quraishi, was confirmed in 2021 to the New Jersey federal trial court.

In a formal welcome of Choudhury to the federal bench, Schumer wrote, “She is a breath of fresh air with unique perspective, and I am proud to have recommended her to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.”