On September 6, 2023, President Biden nominated Judge Mustafa T. Kasubhai to the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. Judge Kasubhai currently serves as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of Oregon and has extensive experience representing plaintiffs in labor law litigation. If confirmed, Judge Kasubhai would make history as the first Muslim to serve on Oregon’s federal district court and the third Muslim to serve as a federal district court judge in the United States.
Judge Mustafa Kasubhai was born in Reseda, California, in 1970 to parents who immigrated from Mumbai, India. He earned his B.S. in Business Administration from the University of California at Berkeley in 1992 and his J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1996.
After law school, Judge Kasubhai went into solo private practice, representing plaintiffs of modest means in family law matters. He then joined the Law Offices of Rasmussen, Tyler & Mundorff where he began practicing before the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board. Judge Kasubhai represented injured workers before the Board. This role kick-started his career in labor law litigation. In 1998, he went on to found his own labor law firm: Kasubhai & Sánchez.
In 2000, Judge Kasubhai returned to solo practice and established the Law Offices of Mustafa T. Kasubhai, PC. Judge Kasubhai represented plaintiffs with workers’ compensation, employment discrimination, and tort law claims. Many of his clients lived in rural areas and were employed in heavy manual labor, millwork, logging, or trucking. To better represent his rural clients, Judge Kasubhai opened a second office in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
In 2003, Judge Kasubhai began serving on the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board. As a board member, Judge Kasubhai reviewed workers’ compensation claims and participated in rulemaking related to workers’ compensation litigation. In 2007, Governor Ted Kulongoski appointed Judge Kasubhai to the Oregon State Circuit Court.
Judge Kasubhai oversaw more than 500 trials during his time on the Oregon State Circuit Court and ruled on issues ranging from family law to criminal law to appeals from administrative courts. In 2018, Judge Kasubhai was chosen by federal district court judges to serve as U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of Oregon. Judge Kasubhai has handled more than 900 cases as a magistrate judge.
The following cases are representative of Judge Kasubhai’s rulings:
- In McIntyre v. City of Springfield – Springfield Police Dep’t, No. 6:21-CV-1709-MK, 2022 WL 18539657 (D. Or. Sept. 22, 2022), the only female recruit in her police training class was fired after engaging in consensual relationships with her male colleagues. McIntyre, the recruit, filed suit against the department, alleging sex discrimination, a violation of her First Amendment right to free speech, and a violation of her due process right to intimate association. Judge Kasubhai ruled that McIntyre’s due process claim could proceed because she sufficiently showed that the department violated her right to intimate association.
- In Duncan v. Eugene Sch. Dist. 4J 6:19-cv-0065-MK, 2021 WL 3145966 (D. Or. July 26, 2021), a high school student alleged that his French teacher violated the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Duncan claimed that his French teacher refused to implement his specialized learning plan and created a hostile learning environment. Judge Kasubhai ruled that, while the IDEA claim was time-barred, the ADA hostile learning environment claim could proceed because there existed sufficient evidence of bullying and harassment.
- In White v. Taylor et al. No. 8:18-cv-00550-MK, 2020 WL 5649629 (D. Or. July 2, 2020), a police officer sued her police chief and department for violations of her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights after she was fired from the police department. White claimed that she was fired not because of poor work performance but because the police chief discovered that she was keeping a list of the department’s policy violations. Judge Kasubhai determined that White could continue with her First Amendment retaliation claim.
Professional Activities and Accolades
Judge Kasubhai has long been an active member of both his local community and the Oregon legal community. In 1997, Judge Kasubhai was appointed commissioner of the Eugene Human Rights Commission (HRC). HRC aims to incorporate universal human rights principles into Eugene city programs. From 1999-2000, Judge Kasubhai served as a judge on the City of Eugene Teen Court (now known as Resolve Youth Restorative Justice). The program aims to provide non-violent youth offenders with an alternative to juvenile detention through opportunities to take restorative actions to repair community harms. From 2007-2013, he served as a mentor in the Oregon Minority Lawyers Association’s mentorship program. Today, Judge Kasubhai serves as President of the Oregon Muslim Bar Association and on the Dean’s Advisory Council for his alma mater, the University of Oregon School of Law.
In 2018, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association awarded Judge Kasubhai the Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award. Judge Kasubhai earned this award “for displaying tenacity, vision, creativity, and courage” in his legal work and making “substantial and lasting contributions to the Asian American Pacific Islanders legal profession.” Judge Kasubhai was also awarded the Justice Lynn Nakamoto Trailblazer Award by the Oregon Asian Pacific American Bar Association and the Wallace P. Carson, Jr. Award for Judicial Excellence from the Oregon State Bar.
In addition to these accolades, Judge Kasubhai has been highly praised for his inclusive approach to jurisprudence. In his courtroom, Judge Kasubhai encourages parties and their counsel to share their preferred pronouns and honorifics. This practice fosters inclusivity and allows individuals to feel more comfortable in an intimidating setting.