Muslim Civil Rights Group Condemns GOP Senators' Treatment Of Muslim Court Pick

Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton's hostility toward Biden nominee Adeel Mangi was "Islamophobic and un-American," said the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country, on Friday denounced three Republican senators for their treatment of President Joe Biden’s historic judicial nominee Adeel Mangi during his recent confirmation hearing.

GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) berated and interrupted Mangi in his Wednesday hearing in the Senate judiciary committee, demanding that Mangi, who is Muslim, share his personal views on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel and the Israeli-Hamas conflict in general.

Mangi, if confirmed, will be the nation’s first ever Muslim American appeals court judge, and only the third Muslim American federal judge. Biden nominated him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, based in Philadelphia.

“We strongly condemn Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley for subjecting Mr. Mangi to irrelevant, hostile questions about Israel and Palestine,” Edward Ahmed Mitchell, CAIR’s national deputy director, said in a statement.

“Singling out a Muslim judicial nominee and forcing him to answer ‘gotcha questions’ about the Middle East simply because of faith or because of his tangential connections to Muslims who comment on the Middle East is Islamophobic and un-American,” Mitchell said. “So is raising the hateful trope that presumptively assumes that Muslims are antisemitic.”

Mitchell called on all senators “to reject this nonsense and start assessing Muslim American judicial nominees based on their expertise and qualifications, like all other nominees.”

Questions about personal views are inappropriate for any judicial nominee, as they are only supposed to talk about their legal expertise. Even so, the line of questioning that Mangi faced was particularly offensive, given that he is Muslim and repeatedly had to attest that he wasn’t antisemitic or sympathetic to terrorists.

At best, the Republican senators’ questioning was terrible optics. At worst, it was plainly Islamophobic.

President Joe Biden’s judicial nominee Adeel Mangi testifies during his Senate confirmation hearing on Dec. 13.
President Joe Biden’s judicial nominee Adeel Mangi testifies during his Senate confirmation hearing on Dec. 13.

During his hearing, Cruz repeatedly pressed Mangi, who is a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, to say where he stands on the Israeli-Hamas conflict and if he sees any justification for the Hamas militants’ terrorist attacks. Mangi repeatedly denounced terrorism.

“I have no patience ― none ― for any attempts to justify or defend those events,” Mangi said of the Oct. 7 attacks, which killed some 1,200 Israelis.

Cruz also tried to tie Mangi to a professor at Rutgers Law School who signed on to a 2021 pro-Palestinian letter denouncing the “colonial conditions” that Palestinians live under. That professor was associated with a center at the university, the Center for Security, Race and Rights. At the time, Mangi served on an advisory panel that met once a year to presents idea for academic research at Rutgers Law School.

“Do you believe that Israel is an occupying force in Palestine?” Cruz asked, referring to the letter that professor had signed.

Mangi said he had no idea about the letter, and reiterated that he served on an advisory board that met annually and focused on academic research at the law school.

But Cruz kept pressing him to say if he agreed with pro-Palestinian sentiments, and Mangi responded each time by saying he wasn’t in a position to weigh in on policy issues and that he only served on an academic advisory panel.

Cruz’s questioning became so hostile that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the committee chair, banged his gavel several times to tell Cruz to knock it off.

Cotton similarly tried to tie Mangi to a speaker at one of the center’s 2021 events who claimed that Jewish people are “colonial settlers” in Israel.

Mangi said, again, that his only connection to the university was his role on the annual advisory panel for the law school, and that he didn’t know anything about the center’s event or its speakers. He also said, again, that the Israeli-Hamas conflict is a policy matter and inappropriate for him to weigh in on.

That didn’t stop Hawley from using his time, too, to press Mangi on his views on Israel. He asked Mangi if believes that Israel is a colonial state. Mangi reiterated that he is not an expert on the Middle East, and that policy questions about this weren’t relevant to why he was there that day.

“I have no basis as a judicial nominee to cast a view on the Middle East,” Mangi said.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) repeatedly pressed Mangi, who is Muslim, to denounce terrorism and prove that he isn't antisemitic.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) repeatedly pressed Mangi, who is Muslim, to denounce terrorism and prove that he isn't antisemitic.
via Associated Press

Durbin apologized to Mangi for the way he was treated, and noted that his nomination was endorsed by the National Council of Jewish Women.

Republican senators have “reached a new low,” Durbin said, “hurling unfounded accusations of antisemitism at an historic Muslim American judicial nominee today.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), also on the committee, said it was shameful to watch how Mangi was treated. Booker recommended Mangi’s nomination to the White House.

“I do know that Muslim Americans who have strong views of condemning antisemitism, condemning terrorism, are often forced to answer questions like that over and over again,” Booker said. “That, in itself, for so many Muslim Americans is insulting and unfortunate.”

Asked for comment, a Cruz spokesperson criticized CAIR’s leader, executive director Nihad Awad, for saying in a recent speech that he was “happy” to see Palestinians break out of Gaza on the day that Hamas militants attacked Israel. Awad later said that his comments were taken “out of context.”

As for Cruz’s treatment of Mangi, the spokesperson reiterated the senator’s concern with Mangi’s thin connection to the center at Rutgers and the 2021 event it hosted.

“Mangi was on the Advisory Board at the time of the event, and would remain on the board for another two years,” said the Cruz spokesperson. “Affiliation with such a hateful organization should be disqualifying for any judicial nominee, whatever their religious affiliation may be.”

Requests for comment from Cotton and Hawley were not returned.

Popular in the Community


What's Hot