Carl Levin to speak at Wayne Law Commencement; pioneering Indian justice to get honorary degree

DETROIT – Carl Levin, Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. senator and chair of the newly launched Levin Center at Wayne Law, will deliver the keynote address at Wayne State University Law School’s Commencement on Monday, May 18.

During the ceremony, the university will award an honorary doctor of laws degree to Sujata Manohar, a former member of the Supreme Court of India and an international pioneer for women’s rights and human rights.

The ceremony, open to graduates and their guests, will be at the Detroit Opera House. Tickets are required.

The Levin Center equips future lawyers, legislators and leaders with an understanding of how effective legislative oversight can lead to significant and meaningful changes in public policy and institutional behavior. Levin served in the Senate from Jan. 3, 1979, to Jan. 3, 2015. He also serves as the law school’s distinguished legislator in residence, co-teaching courses on tax law and policy and legislative process and oversight. In addition, he is senior counsel to Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP.

In his 36-year Senate career, Levin earned respect from his colleagues on both sides of the political aisle for his integrity, resourcefulness, diligence and ability to build consensus. He became one of the nation’s foremost leaders on national security, a powerful voice for equality and justice, and a fighter for economic fairness. He led committees and task forces that protected Michigan’s diverse natural environment; held public and private institutions to high standards of accountability by rooting out waste, fraud and abuse; and took care of the men and women of the military and their families.

Before being elected to the Senate, Levin 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.

Levin earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Swarthmore College and a law degree from Harvard Law School. Wayne State recognized Levin with an honorary degree in 2005.

Manohar, an arbitrator in national and international disputes, was the first female judge of the Bombay High Court in 1978 and later became its chief justice, again the first woman in that role. In 1994, she was appointed to the Supreme Court of India, a seat she held until her retirement in 1999.

She is an established leader in human rights. Shortly after retirement she was appointed to India’s National Human Rights Commission, through which she worked to bring attention to human trafficking, women’s issues and HIV/AIDS. She served as a consultant to the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women’s expert group on trafficking, as well as the U.N. expert group on women, peace and security. She was invited by the division to share her expertise on the use of international human rights norms in cases relating to violence against women and access to courts before both African and Caribbean judges. She also was chosen as a member of the U.N. advisory board of judges on enforcement of human rights.

Among her many accomplishments is leading the establishment of family courts in Maharashtra. She also chaired the International Law Association’s Committee on Feminism and International Law until 2010. She was the first chair of the Board of Visitors of the Judicial Officers’ Training Institute at Nagpur, chair of the Advisory Board on the National Security Act, and vice chair of the Maharashtra State Legal Aid and Advisory Board.

Widely published and an internationally renowned speaker, Manohar was a member of the Yale University Global Constitutionalism Group. She delivered the inaugural talk at the 10th annual international conference of Spain’s Institute for the Study of Violence, was invited by the Indonesian Judicial Commission and the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights to address Indonesian judges on human rights in decision-making, and was one of only three women invited from around the world to speak at the 30th anniversary celebrations of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in 2009.

She has served many social and educational institutions throughout her career, including the Managing Council of Chanda Ramji Girls High School in Bombay, the Board of Governors of Welham Girls School in Dehradun and Bombay International School.

She graduated with first class honors in philosophy and Sanskrit from Elphinstone College in Bombay. She earned a master of arts degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford University and a barrister-at-law from Lincoln’s Inn in London, where she was also the first Indian judge to become honorary bencher. She holds several honorary degrees.

Invitation to media: The media is invited to Commencement to cover the ceremony, Carl Levin’s address and the awarding of Justice Sujata Manohar’s honorary degree. The ceremony begins at 5 p.m. For media tickets, contact Shawn Starkey at (313) 577-4629 or sstarkey@wayne.edu.

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