By Mark Reutter "A meanness out there" has created a wave of cynicism and apathy among U.S. voters, Abner Mikva, White House Counsel and former Illinois Congressman, said recently at the UI College of Law. Speaking on the eve of the mid-term election, Mikva, a Democrat, said he had never seen nor heard as much negative campaigning in his career in government, which spans four decades beginning with his election to the Illinois Legislature in 1956. "There is a difference between changing Congress and tearing it down," he said. "I am embarrassed that so many members of my party are engaging in this." Mikva, who was appointed White House Counsel last month by President Clinton, was at the College of Law Nov. 7 to deliver the David C. Baum Memorial Lecture. Before a standing-room audience, he spoke about the legacy of retired Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr., concentrating on Brennan's landmark 1962 ruling, Baker vs. Carr. Introducing the doctrine of "one-man, one vote" as the basis for reapportioning legislative districts, the opinion worked "a small revolution" in political America. Together with the Voting Rights Act, the ruling led to a significant increase in black officeholders and "a far more open political system today," he said. But Mikva, who sat on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., for 15 years, said that judicial involvement in redistricting has become intrusive. "If the political process can repair the problem, the courts should stay out," he said. "There's no way you can draw a map that doesn't involve some kind of gerrymandering." Several court- developed solutions, such as "racial gerrymandering," can make matters worse, he asserted. Mikva was a victim of redistricting in 1972 when his "safe" congressional seat on Chicago's South Side was eliminated. Mikva then ran for Congress from the suburban North Shore and won.