Biden Judge Pick Tries to Weather Democrat Defections Over Anti-Israel, Defund-Police Ties

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The Biden White House and the Senate’s Democrat leaders are sticking by a nominee for an appeals court vacancy with ties to anti-Israel and anti-police organizations, despite shaky support among some Democrats. 

Separately, a watchdog group raised questions about the judicial nominee’s financial disclosure report. 

In November, President Joe Biden nominated New York lawyer Adeel Mangi to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, which hears cases from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the Virgin Islands. 

In a party-line vote in January, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Mangi, a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler in New York City.

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But this month, Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced their opposition to Mangi, while other Senate Democrats in battleground states were noncommittal when asked about Biden’s nominee. 

With a thin working majority of 51-49 in the Senate, confirming  the Pakistani-American lawyer could require a herculean effort by Democrats to round up enough votes.

Mangi, who if confirmed would be the first Muslim to serve on a federal appeals court, was a member of the advisory board for Rutgers Law School’s Center for Security, Race and Rights from 2019 to 2023. Critics say the center is an anti-Israel organization with ties to a convicted terrorist. 

Mangi, born in 1977, also served on the board of the Legal Aid Society of New York from 2017 to 2021, when the group advocated defunding the New York Police Department. 

And Biden’s nominee was on the advisory board of the Alliance of Families for Justice, an anti-incarceration group co-founded by Kathy Boudin, a former member of the Weather Underground, a domestic terrorism group during the 1970s. 

Last week, the American Accountability Foundation, a conservative government watchdog, wrote to Mangi asking him to withdraw from consideration for failing to report clients on his financial disclosure form submitted to the Senate. 

The group noted that Mangi reported earning $2.3 million in 2022 and $4.4 million in 2023 as a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler.

“The real concern with his nomination has been his affiliation with radicals at Rutgers, but the financial disclosure issues just highlight how he is hiding things,” Tom Jones, president of the American Accountability Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “If he is confirmed, who knows what we will later find out about who his clients were?” 

Cortez Masto announced last week that her biggest concern in confirming Mangi is his association with the Alliance of Families for Justice. 

“This organization has sponsored a fellowship in the name of Kathy Boudin, a member of the domestic terrorist organization Weather Underground, and advocated for the release of individuals convicted of killing police officers,” Cortez Masto said

In February, the conservative legal group Judicial Crisis Network launched a digital ad campaign in Pennsylvania and Montana opposing Mangi’s nomination because of his past affiliations. 

“Why are Senate Democrats so eager to advance a radical antisemite to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench?” JCN President Carrie Severino said in a public statement announcing the ad buy. “Mangi is an unconscionable choice for the 3rd Circuit and President Biden should promptly withdraw his nomination.”

In a press release, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., characterized opponents of the Muslim lawyer’s nomination as “Islamophobic.”

In a thread on X, formerly Twitter, Durbin wrote: “Senate Republicans are falsely accusing him of antisemitism.”

“The truth: Mr. Mangi has unequivocally denounced any acts of terrorism, antisemitism, or bigotry repeatedly,” Durbin said. “He’s earned the support of groups representing over a million Jewish Americans.”

The Anti-Defamation League, a liberal Jewish group, said in a January statement that Mangi had been mistreated during his Senate confirmation hearing the month before. 

Durbin also argued that Mangi never personally represented an accused cop killer. Still, the lawyer’s association with the Alliance of Families for Justice drew criticism from the Police Conference of New York, which represents more than 50,000 police professionals.

“The fact that the Alliance, with Mr. Mangi’s support, praises these cop-killers as leaders to follow and is calling for their release is an affront to the men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting our communities,” the police group said in opposing his nomination by the president.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the Mangi nomination last week in response to a question about Cortez Masto’s announcement of her opposition. Jean-Pierre asserted that Biden is proud of the nomination. 

“Mr. Mangi, who has lived the American dream and proven his integrity, is being targeted by a malicious and debunked smear campaign solely because he would make history as the first Muslim to serve as a federal appellate judge,” Jean-Pierre told reporters. “Senate Democrats should side with the qualities that make America exceptional, which Mr. Mangi embodies, not the hateful forces trying to force America into the past.”

The response to presidents’ judicial nominations has grown increasingly partisan, but this is the first Biden nominee to draw opposition from fellow Democrats, said Tom Jipping, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, which is the parent organization of The Daily Signal.

The likely outcome is that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., won’t schedule a floor vote on Mangi, said Jipping, a former chief counsel to Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

“Democrats won’t hold a vote if they think they will lose,” Jipping told The Daily Signal. “The majority leader doesn’t have to schedule a vote. Democrats could just leave it on the calendar until the August recess. Biden won’t have to withdraw the nomination and the Senate won’t have to defeat a nomination. Even if Biden is reelected, he doesn’t have to renominate Mangi.”

Rutgers University’s Center for Security, Race and Rights hosted an event in 2021 titled “Whose Narrative? 20 Years Since September 11, 2001” that featured former professor Sami al-Arian, who helped fund the group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Washington Free Beacon first reported. 

“My role on the advisory board did not extend to or include providing advice or approval on the selection of speakers, speaker events, lectures, or workshops,” Mangi wrote in response to questions from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the top GOP senator on the Judiciary Committee.

The Rutgers center promoted a March 2021 event backing the anti-Israel movement known as BDS, an acronym for boycott, divest and sanction.

Schumer, who is Jewish, has led bipartisan opposition to the BDS movement, which is widely viewed as antisemitic. 

During his December confirmation hearing, Mangi said he was not aware of the rhetoric of the groups he was affiliated with. 

“Any acts of antisemitism, or any bigotry including anti-Muslim bigotry, on college campuses is appalling,” Mangi said. “My children will be going to universities. I want them to feel safe, and I want the children of my Jewish friends and colleagues to feel safe.”

In his written response to Graham’s questionnaire, Mangi said he donated to the Rutgers organization and facilitated donations from his law firm to the center. 

“My records reflect donations to the Rutgers University Foundation in the amounts of $500 (2018), $2,500 (2019), $1,500 (2020), and $2,000 (2021),” Mangi wrote in response to Graham. “These donations were all intended to support the academic research of the Center for Security, Race and Rights at Rutgers Law School to oppose bigotry and discrimination and to advance religious liberty.”

His law firm contributed another $13,000 to the Rutgers center, Mangi wrote. 

In 2020, while Mangi was still on its board, the center held an event titled “White Christian Privilege: The Illusion of Religious Equality in America.” 

Mangi was no longer on the board Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists slaughtered about 1,200 civilians in southern Israel. 

After those attacks, however, the center posted on X: “To assess Hamas’s October 7th operation and the Israeli regime’s subsequent response in isolation is to ignore over 75 years of colonial violence and the horrific consequences born out of these decades of oppression and attempted erasure.”

The center’s website says it opposes all discrimination, asserting: “The Center for Security, Race and Rights works across racial and religious lines to address the underlying structural and systemic causes of Islamophobia and xenophobia against people of Arab, African, and South Asian descent.”

Opposition to Mangi is a “smear” and “madness” to keep Muslims out of public service, said Ahmed Mitchell, national director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. 

“The anti-Muslim tropes used to target Adeel Mangi are not only meant to block a judicial nominee, but to deter American Muslims from pursuing public service,” Mitchell said in a written statement last week. “This manufactured controversy also shows the unintended consequences of the McCarthy-like witch hunt that far too many Democratic politicians helped unleash against American Muslim students, workers and elected officials in recent months to silence their advocacy for Palestinian human rights.”

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