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Abner J. Mikva (1926 - 2016)

Getty Images / AFP / Daniel Lippitt

Abner J. Mikva (1926 - 2016)

Abner J. Mikva, a former Democratic congressman and federal judge, died July 4, 2016, according to multiple news source. He was 90.

Mikva’s death was announced by the Mikva Challenge, a program to help empower youth that he helped to found along with his wife, Zoe. No cause of death was announced.

Abner Joseph Mikva was born Jan. 21, 1926, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After his education in public schools, Mikva enlisted in the Army Air Corps, but World War II ended before he could be deployed. He later attended Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where he met his wife. He received his law degree in 1951 from the University of Chicago Law School.

“Long known as a liberal reform leader and a man of unassailable integrity, Abner J. Mikva successfully bucked Chicago’s Democratic political machine when he was elected to the Illinois state legislature in 1956 as an independent, reform-minded Democrat, and later served as a Democractic congressman in the late 1960s and ‘70s,” the Mikva Challenge wrote in a post on Facebook.


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After his congressional career, Mikva became a federal judge. Then-President Jimmy Carter nominated Mikva May 29, 1979, to the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals. He was confirmed Sept. 25 of that year by a 58-31 vote of the U.S. Senate. He served on the court until 1994, leaving to become White House counsel advising President Bill Clinton.

Mikva was one of about three dozen people to have served in all three branches of the federal government.

He also taught law at the University of Chicago Law School.

Mikva received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2014.

In addition to his wife, Zoe, Mikva is survived by his daughters Mary, Laurie, and Rachel; and by seven grandchildren.

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