U.S. Senate Confirms ACLU Illinois Legal Director as 1st Muslim Woman, 1st Bangladeshi-American Federal Judge

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By The Vanguard Staff

WASHINGTON, DC – The legal director of the ACLU of Illinois—Nusrat Choudhury—was confirmed by the U.S. Senate Thursday to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and becomes the first Muslim woman and first Bangladeshi-American in history to serve as a federal judge, according to the ACLU.

The ACLU added Choudhury is also “only the third ACLU lawyer to go directly onto the federal bench as Article III judges…the first was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was first appointed as a federal judge in 1980 by President Carter after founding and leading the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. 

“Ginsburg was subsequently appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States by President Clinton in 1993. The second was Dale Ho, who earlier this week was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” said the ACLU.

“The ACLU congratulates Nusrat Choudhury on her confirmation as federal judge. This significant achievement is an exclamation point on her long track record of protecting civil liberties and civil rights,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU noted Choudhury’s “successful legal challenges during her tenure at the ACLU include four lawsuits against the unlawful jailing of poor people for unpaid fines, which led to a landmark set of reforms in Biloxi, Mississippi and statewide changes advancing equal treatment for rich and poor in Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, and Washington.”

The ACLU, in a statement, added Choudhury was “lead attorney in putative class action litigation against the Milwaukee Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices — the first class action litigation challenging the stop-and-frisk of drivers as well as people walking on the street.”

And, the ACLU wrote, she “led lawsuits securing public records about the FBI’s racial and ethnic mapping program, proving that the government’s administration of the No Fly List redress process failed to provide notice, and helping develop litigation challenging the NYPD’s unwarranted and discriminatory profiling of Muslims for surveillance, resulting in a court-ordered settlement guarding against the targeting of New Yorkers for their religious beliefs.”

“Nusrat Choudhury is a trailblazing civil rights lawyer with a remarkable record of advancing equal justice for all in our nation. Her tireless dedication to civil rights led her to pioneer litigation against practices that punish people for poverty, most notably how efforts to generate local revenue were causing poor people to be jailed for unpaid fines without court hearings,” Romero continued.

“Nusrat’s litigation in Milwaukee secured model reforms to advance safe, constitutional and effective policing. She also brought early litigation in the war on terror, securing the first federal court ruling that struck down the government’s No Fly List redress procedures for violating due process, and challenging the use of religion as a proxy for suspicion. We congratulate Nusrat on this well-earned accomplishment,” Romero added.

The ACLU said Choudhury led litigation to protect medically vulnerable people from dangerous conditions while detained in county jails pending immigration proceedings, represented community organizations and the ACLU of Illinois in a coalition enforcing a federal consent decree to reform Chicago police patterns of excessive force.

Choudhury, noted the ACLU, advanced an end to fine and fee practices that punish people for poverty, including by leading a coalition of organizations with diverse views in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Chicago v. Fulton.

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