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Muslim American appeals court nominee loses Democratic support

Rosen is latest of three senators who appear ready to vote against Adeel Mangi confirmation

Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., leaves the Senate Democrats’ weekly lunch in the Capitol last month.
Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., leaves the Senate Democrats’ weekly lunch in the Capitol last month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Biden administration’s push to appoint the first Muslim American federal appeals court judge has run into more trouble in the Senate confirmation process, as Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada became the latest Democrat to announce she would not support the nominee.

Adeel Mangi’s bid for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit is one of the most intense judicial confirmation fights this Congress, with conservatives arguing the lawyer has links to anti-police activism and Democrats contending he’s been the target of improper attacks related to his religion.

Democrats, who along with independents hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, largely have stuck together to confirm President Joe Biden’s picks for the federal judiciary.

But three Democrats now appear ready to vote against Mangi, a New Jersey resident who was born in Pakistan, graduated from Harvard Law School and is a partner at the firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler.

Rosen, in a one-line statement Thursday, said she does not plan on voting to confirm Mangi, given “the concerns I’ve heard from law enforcement in Nevada.”

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., announced last week she would not support Mangi’s nomination, citing his ties to Alliance of Families for Justice, an organization where he is a member of their advisory board.

The organization, Cortez Masto said in a statement, has advocated for the release of people convicted of killing law enforcement officers, and sponsored a fellowship “in the name of” Kathy Boudin, who was a member of the Weather Underground, which the FBI has called a defunct domestic terrorist group.

“Mr. Mangi’s affiliation with the Alliance of Families for Justice is deeply concerning,” Cortez Masto said.

And Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., last week told Politico that he would not support Biden judicial nominees unless they have support from at least one Republican.

No Republicans voted for Mangi’s nomination to advance from the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has mentioned Alliance of Families for Justice in arguing against Mangi’s confirmation.

The Kentucky Republican said in a March 21 floor speech that law enforcement organizations have opposed the nominee “for his record of associating with the most radical type of anti-police activist — those who support cop killers.”

McConnell, during the same speech, dismissed criticism that conservatives had subjected Mangi to Islamaphobic attacks.

“Senate Republicans’ opposition has absolutely nothing to do with his Muslim faith,” McConnell said. “Rather, it has everything to do with his long-standing sympathy for, and association with, some of the most radical elements in society.”

The White House has stood by their nominee, with White House Chief of Staff Jeffrey D. Zients telling NBC News in a statement that “some Senate Republicans and their extreme allies are relentlessly smearing Adeel Mangi with baseless accusations that he is anti-police.”

Senate Judiciary Chair Richard J. Durbin has defended Mangi, saying the nominee has been subjected to a “smear campaign” and should be evaluated on his record, “not on dishonest, bad-faith insinuation.”

Durbin argued that critics had used Mangi’s “minimal involvement” with the Alliance of Families for Justice to assert that he supports “cop killers.”

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Durbin said.

“As a longtime corporate lawyer, Mr. Mangi has never said or written anything — anything — that suggests he supports individuals who have murdered members of law enforcement,” Durbin said in a floor speech earlier this month.

Mangi has also never represented an individual accused of killing a police officer, Durbin said.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., also defended Mangi in a floor speech and characterized the attacks on the nominee as unwarranted and untruthful.

“They have no basis in fact and sadly they smack of bigotry,” Booker said. “They intend to exploit people’s fears. They intend to exploit people’s fears of his faith.”