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In Memory of Carl M. Levin, 1934-2021

July 30, 2021

Honigman mourns the passing of our dear partner, friend and mentor, Carl Levin. 

Carl joined the firm in 2015 after serving in the United States Senate for 36 years, the longest serving senator in Michigan history.  Carl was deeply committed to public service, human and civil rights and social justice.  He served as General Counsel to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1964 to 1967 and as a special Michigan assistant attorney general.  He was elected to the Detroit City Council in 1968, served as Council President from 1973 to 1977 and was elected to the Senate in 1978. 

Admired and respected on both sides of the aisle in the Senate, Carl was a thoughtful and forceful advocate for his state and his country.  Here are just a few examples of Carl’s many significant accomplishments and contributions during his distinguished Senatorial career: 

--As Chair of the Committee on Armed Services and an important member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Carl was a staunch supporter of homeland security and a strong and efficient military.  He was a champion of the United States auto industry and its role in military defense, as well as its workers. 

--Among the many investigations Carl led were the causes of the 2008 financial crisis (the investigation helped lead to the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act) and the Enron scandal. 

--He authored the Whistleblower Protection Act and played a critical, bi-partisan role in drafting and passing important environmental, energy and defense related legislation. 

--He also obtained federal funding for the Detroit Riverfront project and led the effort to establish and expand national parks, lakeshores, wilderness areas and trails throughout the Great Lakes region. 

Carl received many awards and recognitions, too many to list here.  Again, just a few examples: 

 --The Freedom Medal in 2007.  Other winners of this prestigious award include Nelson Mandela, The Red Cross, Bill and Hilary Clinton and Thurgood Marshall. 

--The Wade H. McCree, Jr. Award for Advancement of Social Justice in 2016, granted by the Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of Michigan Chapter, to individuals or organizations who have made significant contributions to the advancement of social justice. 

--After Carl retired from the Senate, Wayne State University established the Levin Center at its law school.  The Center and its scholarship are dedicated to helping lawyers, legislators and civic leaders understand how effective legislation creation and oversight can lead to meaningful changes in public policy and institutional behavior.  Carl was the first chair of the center and was its Distinguished Legislator in Residence. 

--In 2016, a United States naval destroyer was named in Carl’s honor.  Several of us proudly attended the announcement of USS Carl Levin (DDG-120).  It was a powerfully moving moment for Carl and his family, which by then included us. 

Two longtime Honigman attorneys, Maury Binkow and the late David Page, helped recruit Carl to Honigman after his retirement from an illustrious Senate career.  He was their close friend and former Harvard Law School classmate and the perfect new partner.  Despite his powerful and legendary history, he was accessible to everyone--partners and associates alike--witty, self-effacing, engaging and eager to share his incredible experience and insights with our firm and our clients, always with an uncommon modesty for a man of his stature.  In a word, he was fun.  Our firm is blessed and better as an institution by the brief time Carl was our colleague.  Our condolences to the Levin family on the passing of a most remarkable man.

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