Levin, Carl

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LEVIN, CARL (1934– ), U.S. senator from Michigan, longest-serving senator in Michigan history, ranking Democrat on Senate Armed Service Committee. Levin was born in Detroit to an ardently Democratic family, and politics seemed to be part of the family's vocation. His uncle Theodore Levin was a Federal judge, his older brother, Sander *Levin, was a member of the House of Representatives from 1983, and his first cousin was a Michigan Supreme Court judge while another first cousin, Joseph Levin, was a candidate for the House of Representatives.

Levin was educated in Detroit public schools, and graduated from Swarthmore (1956) and Harvard Law School (1959). He was an assistant state attorney general and first general counsel for the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1964 to 1967 and then chief appellate defender of the city of Detroit from 1968 to 1969 before being elected to the City Council where he served from 1969 to 1977. He was Council president from 1973 to 1977 and then was elected to the Senate in a race against the then Senate Minority Whip Robert P. Griffin.

In the Senate he served on the Armed Service Committee, at one time chairing it; in 2005 he was the leading Democratic voice on national defense with a reputation for propriety and a propensity to fight waste. His position forced him to challenge the Bush Administration on prewar intelligence though he was known for his keen support of national defense. Levin is the ranking Democrat on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Among his other accomplishments was the investigation of the collapse of Enron and the spikes in gasoline prices. A champion of government ethics, he was the author of the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 and was central to the enactment of the Special Counsel Law. Representing Michigan, Levin has been concerned about the fate of organized labor and the automobile industry. A strong supporter of Israel, he also represents the largest Arab-American constituency in the United States.

In an era of glib politicians who are media savvy, Levin typically appears with his glasses on his nose in suits that are anything but tailor-made. Yet his command of the issues is strong, his mastery of material evident, and his integrity unquestioned. The people of Michigan have elected him time and again.

[Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]