Abner J. Mikva was a member of our University of Chicago Law School Class of 1951, a class distinguished for its political prodigies. It included Robert Bork (before he was recalled to military duty during the Korean War), Ramsey Clark, and Patsy T. Mink. Abner Mikva, who came to the University of Chicago (as did I) from wartime service as a navigator in the United States Army Air Corps, eventually served with distinction in the Legislative; Judicial, and Executive Branches of the National Government (after an instructive apprenticeship in the Illinois General Assembly). All of these government posts were preceded by service with a prominent Chicago law firm and were followed by service as the Senior Director of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic of the University of Chicago Law School.
Ab Mikva has also been, throughout his remarkable career, very helpful to me personally. Thus, he, as a Member of the House of Representatives in Washington, entered in the Congressional Record various statements by me about the tyranny of the Colonels in Greece (1967-1974). More recently, he has provided a generous Foreword for my book, On Trial: From Adam & Eve to O. J. Simpson (2004). Early in his career as a lawyer, he joined (in 1954) with three other lawyers of distinction (Leon M. Despres, Alexander L. Polikoff, and Bernard Weisberg) in a vigorous amicus brief on my behalf in my Illinois Bar Admission litigation (1950-1961).
Sensible citizens have always recognized Abner Mikva’s considerable talents and reliable sensibleness. Thus, the director of a large national corporation, living in Kenilworth, supported him when he ran for Congress from a conservative North Shore district, explaining to a fellow businessman who had complained about this candidate as a “liberal” or a “socialist,” if not even as a “Communist,” “Those labels don’t mean a whole lot when you’ve got a serious problem. When we go to Washington, we need to be able to talk to someone who can understand the problem and its ramifications, and who may be able to help us develop a solution.” I myself can still say of Abner Mikva what I did in the Preface to my On Trial book: “I have yet to meet anyone who, knowing him well, speaks ill of him, which is a tribute to that happy conjunction in him of a considerable talent and an obvious good will.”
Living Treasure Award Convocation Phi Beta Kappa Association
Union League Club of Chicago
May 17, 2009
George Anastaplo is Lecturer in the Liberal Art, The University of Chicago; Professor of Law, Loyola University of Chicago; and Professor Emeritus of Political Science and of Philosophy, Dominican University.
Congressman Mikva entered into the Congressional Record several pieces by George Anastaplo. See “One American’s Suggestions about Greek-American Relations (1967-1974) as Found in the Congressional Record,” (posted on this website June 1, 2013). See, also, “One Citizen’s Use of the Congressional Record (1970-1996),” (posted on this website July 4, 2013). This was done as well by Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink (another member of the University of Chicago Law School Class of 1951).