Jay Miller, ACLU director on Nixon’s ‘enemies list,’ dies at 83


Jay A. Miller, a passionate advocate of civil liberties for decades, whose work earned him a spot on Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies list,” died in Skokie, Ill., on Jan. 3 at 83.

"He really felt that that established his civil liberties (credentials) in a way that nothing else did," said Colleen K. Connell, ACLU director. "It was absolutely a badge of honor for him."


Among Miller’s early efforts in the 1960s were campaigns for a nuclear test ban treaty and a rally for Martin Luther King Jr. at Soldier Field. In later years, Miller and the ACLU took on of public school desegregation in Waukegan, and a challenge to racial segregation in public housing.

“It was woven into Jay’s DNA that no individual was less deserving of precious constitutional protections than any other person. He breathed, he lived and he understood that assuring fundamental rights for each individual ensures fundamental rights for all of us,” Connell said.

Miller was born in Cleveland and grew up in Chicago. He served in the Army and received a degree in social science from University of Illinois. He worked as a reporter for the Cleveland Press and then worked for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and American Friends Service Committee before joining the ACLU.

The Chicago Sun-Times said Miller landed on the enemies list for opening ACLU offices to some of the defendants in the “Chicago 7” trial after the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org.

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