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Judge Abner Mikva - Legislators Project

Abner Mikva grew up on the south side of Chicago, and began his political career following a one-year clerkship with the U.S. Supreme Court. He became interested in politics in the late 1940s, identifying himself as an independent Democrat - a strong supporter of Adlai Stevenson but not part of the powerful Chicago Democratic machine. Mikva served in the Illinois legislature from 1956 to 1966 representing the Hyde Park neighborhood of the city, and the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969 to January 1973. He was maneuvered out of office due to redistricting, then represented the Evanston area in Congress from 1975 to 1979, when he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (not a subject of this interview). In 1994 he began a one-year hitch as President Bill Clinton's legal advisor. He then returned to Chicago, taught law, and became one of Barack Obama's mentors and early supporters in the late 1990s.

Interview Links

Feature Excerpt

"Who Sent You?"

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Early life, military service and legal training

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Entrance into Illinois politics and early years in legislature

Interview Session 03 (Audio)

Legislative career and Illinois politics in the 1960s

Interview Session 04 (Audio)

Loss in the 1966 Congressional race and more on IL politics

Interview Session 05 (Audio)

1968 Congressional election, ’68 Convention and early time in Congress

Interview Session 06 (Audio)

Defeat in 1972 election, and return to Congress and service to 1979

Interview Session 07 (Audio)

Pres. Bill Clinton’s White House counsel, 1994-95

Interview Session 08 (Audio)

Pres. Clinton’s WH counsel and association with Barack Obama

Videos

Photos

Caption

Abner Mikva with Justice Sherman Minton and his fellow law clerks. Mikva served as Minton’s clerk in 1951-52 after earning his JD from the University of Chicago Law School.

Where:

Unknown

When:

1951-52

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Abner Mikva’s photo from the 1957-1958 edition of the Illinois Blue Book. At that time, he served as a representative from the Twenty-Third District in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Where:

Illinois Blue Book

When:

1957-1958

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Abner Mikva concedes his race for Congress in 1966. Mikva’s wife, Zoe is also pictured.

Where:

Unknown

When:

1966

Ownership:

May be restricted. Photo taken from the University of Chicago Magazine.

Caption

Abner Mikva’s photo from the Illinois Blue Book, 1977-1978. He represented Illinois’s Tenth District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975-1979.

Where:

Illinois Blue Book

When:

1977-1978

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

President Jimmy Carter joined Representative Mikva on the campaign trail in 1978.

Where:

Illinois

When:

1978

Ownership:

May be restricted. Photo taken from the University of Chicago Magazine.

Caption

Abner Mikva poses for a photo with President Jimmy Carter on November 2, 1978. The photo is signed by President Carter, “To my good friend Ab Mikva”.

Where:

Illinois

When:

November 2, 1978

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain. White House photo.

Caption

A photograph of Abner Mikva and Tip O’Neill, the Speaker of the House, taken circa 1977-1979. The photo is signed by O’Neill, “Best to a great Democrat, beautiful guy, and wonderful friend”.

Where:

Illinois

When:

Circa 1977-1979

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Judge Mikva is pictured with members of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1983. Also pictured are Judges Bork, Starr, Wald, Ginsburg, Scalia in the back, and MacKinnon, Wright, Robinson, Tamm, and Wilkey.

Where:

Washington, D.C.

When:

1983

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

An official photograph of Mikva shortly after he was appointed Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1991. He served as Chief Judge until 1994.

Where:

Unknown

When:

1991

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Abner Mikva with President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore when Mikva was named White House counsel on August 11, 1994.

Where:

Washington, D.C.

When:

August 11, 1994

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain. White House photo.

Caption

Abner Mikva poses for a picture with Bill Clinton on October 28, 1995 while Mikva served as Clinton’s Chief Counsel.

Where:

Unknown

When:

October 28, 1995

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain. White House photo.

Caption

A photo of Abner Mikva, taken in 1996 at the University of Chicago where he taught law.

Where:

University of Chicago

When:

1996

Ownership:

May be restricted. Photo taken from the University of Chicago Magazine by Dan Dry.

Caption

Abner Mikva poses for a picture with Senator Barack Obama and Newton Minow. The picture is signed by Senator Obama and reads, “Thanks for your friendship, counsel, and encouragement all these years

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain. White House photo.

Caption

Judge Mikva appeared in this caricature of Mount Rushmore with his fellow law partners Milton Shadur, Arthur Goldberg and Carl Devoe (with Mikva on the right) to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the law firm Goldberg, Devoe, Shadur & Mikva.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

In November 2014 Judge Mikva received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from his former protégé, President Barack Obama, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

Where:

East Room of the White House

When:

November 2014

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain. White House photo.



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