August 11, 1994
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
BIOGRAPHY OF ABNER J. MIKVA
Abner J. Mikva was sworn in as a Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on September 27, 1979. He became Chief Judge on January 19, 1991.
Prior to going on the bench, Chief Judge Mikva served in the United States Congress for five terms, representing districts that included portions of Chicago and Cook County. As a freshman Congressman, he was appointed to the Brown Commission which provided the main impetus for efforts to recodify the criminal laws of the United States. Judge Mikva served on both the Judiciary and Ways and Means Committees during his tenure in the Congress. He was also Chairman of the Democratic Study Group which was comprised of over 250 House Democrats.
In 1956 Chief Judge Mikva started his political career by winning a seat in the Illinois Legislature -- the first of five consecutive terms (1956-66). While there, he served as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Born January 21, 1926 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Chief Judge Mikva served as a Navigator in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He received his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1951, graduating cum laude. He was editor-in-chief of the Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif, the national legal honor society. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Following law school graduation, he was selected as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sherman Minton. After a year in Washington, he returned to Illinois where he entered law practice, becoming a partner of the late Justice Arthur Goldberg. His practice included extensive litigation and appellate work, labor law, and matters before various administrative agencies.
While he was out of the U.S. Congress for one term (1973-74), Mikva returned to the law practice and also served as Chairman of the Illinois Ethics Board. He has taught courses in "The Legislative Process" at the University of Chicago, at Northwestern University School of Law, at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and at Georgetown Law School, and has taught courses in Legal Ethics at Duke University Law School.
Chief Judge Mikva is the co-author of a political science textbook on the Congress entitled "The American Congress: The First Branch," which was published in April 1983. He also has authored numerous law review articles, magazine essays, book reviews, and other works, on subjects ranging from sovereign immunity to the legislative process.
Judge Mikva's wife, Zoe, is a businesswoman in Washington. They have three daughters: Mary (a lawyer), Laurie (a lawyer), and Rachel (a rabbi).
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT AND RECOGNITION
Chief Judge Mikva has received honorary degrees from the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, American University, Tulane University and the Hebrew Union College. He has been given the University of Chicago Alumni Professional Achievement Award; he also received the "Excellence in Politics Award" from the Committee on Illinois Government for his years of public service.
He received the "Award of Merit" from the National Council of Senior Citizens, won several "Best Legislator" Awards from the Independent Voters of Illinois, and was presented the "Clarence Darrow Humanitarian" award for public service in the Darrow tradition. In 1961, the Junior Association of Commerce and Industry named Mikva "One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in Chicago." In May 1992, he was presented the Decalogue Society of Lawyers' Annual Award of Merit.
He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Cancer Society, the Institute for Psychoanalysis, and the Board of Managers of the Chicago Bar Association. In 1989, Judge Mikva served as President of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, the alumni association of the Congress, and he received the Association's "Distinguished Service to the Republic" award in 1993.
As a member of the American Bar Association, Chief Judge Mikva also served as Chair of the Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities and on the Governing Council of the Section on Litigation. He is presently serving on the Executive Board of the ABA's Central and East European Law Initiative. He is also on the Steering Committee of the European Cooperation Fund's East-West Parliamentary Practice Project. He is a member of the American Law Institute, the American Judicature Society, the Chicago Bar Association, and the Bar Association of the District of Columbia.
Chief Judge Mikva is a member of the U.S. Judicial Conference, the governing body of the federal judiciary. He was recently appointed to serve on the Budget Committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference; he previously served on the Conference's Committee on the Judicial Branch (1980-89).