Member log in

Living Treasure Award: Abner Mikva

June 2009

A distinguished PBK key holder, Abner Mikva, was the recipient of this year’s Living Treasure Award. Mikva received the award at a reception at the Union League Club on Sunday, May 17.

Mikva has displayed the ideals of PBK through his many achievements as a U.S. Representative, federal judge, White House legal counsel, and most recently, an informal advisor to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

After receiving the Living Treasure Award, Mikva gave a thought-provoking speech entitled, “Presidents who are Lawyers: What a Difference it Makes.” Mikva argued that lawyers have many qualities that make them well-suited for the presidency, such as training to consider the nuances and variations of a given issue. Lawyers also understand that progress is made through leadership and negotiations. Mikva said, “I don’t necessarily think that all presidents should be lawyers. But I think that being a lawyer ought to be an advantage, and it ought to be something that a candidate for president should be able to brag about.”

During a lively question-and-answer period, Mikva commented on a variety of subjects, such as the Supreme Court vacancy and the problems with electing judges. Mikva said he recently wrote to President Obama regarding the Supreme Court appointment and urged him to select someone with political experience in order to broaden the range of experiences among the justices. Mikva observed, “I always noted how much narrower my point of view was…when I was a judge as compared to when I was a congressman.”