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Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Abner J. Mikva dead at 90

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Abner J. Mikva, who served at high levels in all three branches of the U.S. federal government, died on Monday at the age of 90 in Chicago. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014 by President Barack Obama. Photo courtesy of Mikva Challenge
Abner J. Mikva, who served at high levels in all three branches of the U.S. federal government, died on Monday at the age of 90 in Chicago. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014 by President Barack Obama. Photo courtesy of Mikva Challenge

CHICAGO, July 5 (UPI) -- Abner J. Mikva, a former Illinois congressman, judge and White House counsel to President Bill Clinton, died on Monday in Chicago at the age of 90.

Mikva served in all three branches of the federal government. In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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"As a University of Chicago student, Abner Mikva stopped by the local Democratic headquarters and asked to volunteer," President Obama said during the ceremony. "I love this story. A committeeman asked who sent you. And Ab said, nobody. And the committeeman said, we don't want nobody nobody sent. That's Chicago for you."

Mikva served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing Illinois' 2nd congressional district from 1969 until 1973. He represented Illinois' 10th district, which includes the northern suburbs of Chicago, from 1975 until 1979 -- after which he was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He ascended to become the court's chief judge and served until 1994 when he became Clinton's White House counsel.

The latest cause Mikva was involved in was working to convince the U.S. Senate to hold nomination hearings and a vote over the stalled nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was also involved in the Mikva Challenge program that attempts to connect young people to politics.

Mikva's funeral and burial will be a private family event. A public memorial will be held in early August.

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