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Making History

Judge Nusrat Rashid ’93 is focused on inclusion

When Judge Nusrat Rashid ’93 was elected to the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas in November, she achieved not one, but three landmark firsts.

“In the entire history of Delaware County, there has never been a Black woman elected to the trial court bench,” says Rashid. “I was not only the first Black woman to win, but the first Black woman to run.”

Rashid also made history as the first Muslim judge in the state of Pennsylvania, an honor she holds with equal magnitude “because my faith is inseparable from my race and my gender.”  

The 2019 election win marked the first time any Democrat had been elected to the trial court bench in Delaware County; Rashid was one among four.

As an undergraduate at Swarthmore, Rashid interrogated the very legacies of judicial misconduct she seeks to address. 

“People mistrust because they’ve been mistreated,” says Rashid, whose campaign centered on diversity, balance, and inclusion. “One of the main reasons I ran was to increase public confidence in the courts.”

With more than 20 years of experience as an attorney, and 10 years at her own private practice in Delaware County, it is not only Rashid’s track record that built a successful campaign, but also her commitment to the court’s original purpose: to serve the people justly. 

“The judiciary has to be diverse and representative of the communities that it serves,” says Rashid. But for her, this is inseparable from a court that is “truly independent, and motivated by what is right and good under the law.”

Rashid took the bench in January and sees her victory as both an inauguration and an invitation. 

“I’ve opened a door,” she says. “I’d rather be called the first than called the only, because the first implies that there’s going to be a second.”