Senator Carl Levin, 1934 - 2021

The Levin Center at Wayne Law was established to carry on the legislative oversight legacy and vision of U.S. Senator Carl Levin, who represented Michigan in the U.S. Senate for 36 years, longer than any other Michigan senator.  A lifelong Detroiter and former President of the Detroit City Council, Carl Levin went to Washington to ensure a compassionate and effective federal government. Upon his retirement in January 2015, Wayne State University and the Wayne Law School along with supporters, friends, and former staff established the Levin Center at Wayne Law.  


After Senator Levin's passing in July 2021, the Levin Center will continue to be inspired by his legacy of dedicated public service, integrity, and unwavering committment to good government. 


  1. The Levin Center and Levin Family's joint statement on Senator Levin's passing - July 29, 2021
  2. Read Senator Levin's Biography
  3. Read the statements issued honoring Senator Levin
  4. Read articles honoring Senator Levin
  5. Watch TV coverage honoring Senator Levin
  6. Senator Levin's Memoir "Getting to the Heart of the Matter" - list of articles and interviews
  7. Watch conversations with Senator Levin on oversight (video series)
  8. Listen to our Oversight Matters podcast episode with Senator Levin (April 2021)
  9. Read or leave a public statement on Senator Levin's memorial page



2. Biography:

Senator Carl Levin was Michigan's longest serving senator from 1979 until his retirement from the Senate in 2015. In his 36-year Senate career, Levin earned respect from his colleagues on both sides of the political aisle for his integrity, resourcefulness and diligence, and ability to build consensus. He became one of the nation's most respected leaders on national security, a powerful voice for equality and justice, and a fighter for economic fairness.

In the Senate, his top priority was the economic well-being of Michigan families. He was a consistent voice for support of American manufacturing and was one of the Senate's strongest advocates for policies that would help American manufacturers compete globally. He was also co-chair of the Senate Auto Caucus.

Another of Levin's signature issues was protecting Michigan's diverse natural environment. As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, he successfully worked to increase funding for Great Lakes environmental restoration and to preserve the natural, historical and cultural legacy of the lakes, including historic lighthouses. He supported Great Lakes harbors, played a leading role in helping found the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Keweenaw National Historical Park, and successfully passed legislation to preserve Michigan wilderness areas, including Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore.

As chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, he held public and private institutions to high standards of accountability, rooting out waste, fraud and abuse. He was known for carrying out bipartisan, fact-based and fair inquiries that led to meaningful reforms. His landmark Enron investigation supported passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, strengthening U.S. financial reporting and accounting rules. His 2007 hearings on unfair credit card practices paved the way for credit card reforms that benefited millions of families, while his 2009 hearings on banks helping U.S. clients cheat on their taxes sparked a worldwide crack down on bank secrecy.  His subcommittee also produced the only bipartisan report on the 2008 financial crisis and helped break the filibuster of the Dodd-Frank Act, leading to the most significant U.S. financial reforms in a generation.  His series of hearings from 2012 to 2014 on corporate tax dodging has become a catalyst for tax reforms that continue to unfold.

As chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Levin focused on taking care of the men and women of the military and their families, supporting pay raises and improvements in treatment and other policies for wounded warriors. He led oversight efforts to improve efficiency and reduce cost overruns in expensive weapons programs. He opposed the resolution giving Congressional authorization to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, offering an alternative resolution that would have given time for U.N. inspectors to complete their search for weapons of mass destruction and require the administration to seek international support before taking military action. He supported military action to eliminate the al-Qaida threat in Afghanistan. He consistently supported policies that would encourage Afghan leaders to take responsibility for their nation's security.

Levin was honored as one of Time's 10 best senators. His many awards and honorary degrees include the Detroit Free Press/Metropolitan Affairs Coalition Neal Shine Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership, 2014; Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award, 2014; Detroit Branch NAACP James Weldon Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award, 2014; Michigan Association of Broadcasters Distinguished Lifetime of Public Service Award, 2014; Michigan League of Conservation Voters Lifetime Achievement Award, 2014; Anti-Defamation League of Michigan Torch of Liberty Award, 2014; Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Foundation's Four Freedoms Medal, 2007; Global Service Award, World Affairs Council, 2007; National Marine Sanctuary Stewardship Award, 2005; National Guard Association of the U.S. Harry S. Truman Award, 2004; and Secretary of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award, 2003.

Before being elected to the Senate, he was a member and president of the Detroit City Council. He also served as the first general counsel of Michigan's Civil Rights Commission, after which he was special assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan and chief appellate defender for the Legal Aid and Defenders Association of Detroit. At that time, the association was the largest provider of legal services to low- and moderate-income people in Michigan and one of the largest in the nation.

Levin earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Swarthmore College and a law degree from Harvard Law School. Wayne State University recognized Levin with an honorary degree in 2005. In 1961, he married Barbara Halpern, a 1977 graduate of Wayne Law. 


3. Statements honoring Senator Levin


4. Articles honoring Senator Levin (regional media)

Articles honoring Senator Levin (national and international media) 

5. TV & Radio Coverage


6. Senator Levin's Memoir "Getting to the Heart of the Matter" - list of articles and interviews


7. Senator Levin on Oversight:

Video 1

Video 2:

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Video 3B:

Video 4: