Carl Milton Levin (born June 28, 1934) is a
United States Senator from
and is the Chairman of the
Senate Committee on Armed Services. He has been in the
Senate since 1979 and Michigan's senior senator since 1995.
He is the longest-serving US Senator ever to represent Michigan, and was elected
to a sixth term in 2008.
Levin was born in
Jewish parents Bess Levinson and Saul R. Levin.
He attended Detroit public schools and graduated from
Swarthmore College in 1956 and from
Harvard Law School in 1959. Soon after earning his
degree, he was admitted to the Michigan
bar and opened a practice in Detroit, where he still lives. He
received honorary degrees from
Michigan State University in 2004,
Wayne State University in 2005, and
Michigan Technological University in 2008.
He was state assistant police officer and general counsel for the
civil rights commission from 1964-67. He was special assistant attorney
general for the State of Michigan and chief appellate defender for the city
of Detroit from 1968-69. He was a member of the
Detroit City Council from 1969 to 1977, two four-year terms,
the last four years as council president.
He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978, defeating
Senate Minority Whip
Robert P. Griffin.
Levin faced a tough reelection bid in 1984 against former
Jack R. Lousma, winning by only four points. However, he routed
Bill Schuette in 1990, and was reelected in 1996 and 2002 against only
nominal Republican opposition. In 2002, Levin garnered 61% of the vote
against Republican Andrew "Rocky" Raczkowski despite the then-high
popularity of President
George W. Bush and the GOP and a close gubernatorial race that year.
On December 4, 2006, Levin announced that he would run for a sixth term
Levin won by a comfortable margin.
Following the 1990/91 revelations of
the downing of
Korean Air Lines Flight 007 near
Moneron Island, Carl Levin, along with
Bill Bradley wrote to the Soviet President,
Mikhail Gorbachev requesting information about the flight..
Afterwards, on December 10. 1991, Senator Jesse Helms, at that time ranking
member of the minority staff of the Committee on Foreign Relations pressed
the matter with Boris Yeltsin. The Russian Federation's 1992 handing over
the long concealed and denied Black Box and tapes, together with the Soviet
military communications of the shootdown, might well have been the results
of these senatorial attempts for more information, beginning with Senator
Levin and the others.
Levin is a critic of the
New Hampshire presidential primary's first-in-the-nation status, saying
a more diverse state (such as his own Michigan) should hold its contest
In April 2006, Levin was selected by
Time as one of "America's 10 Best Senators."
American Civil Liberties Union gave him a 78% rating on civil liberties
issues in 2005.
gun control advocate, Levin has been graded F by
Gun Owners of America. He was one of the 16 senators who
voted against the
He is almost always seen wearing his glasses at the end of his nose,
which has drawn much humorous attention. In response, he lightheartedly
joked that the late Senator
Strom Thurmond (while he was in office) would have never worn his
glasses because they "make him look old."
Daily Show host
Stewart refers to him both as the "kindly old shoemaker", and "Grandpa Munster".
An avid supporter of the non-profit civil rights organization
Focus: HOPE, Levin was instrumental in the procurement of equipment and
funding for their Machinist Training Institute (MTI).
Levin's family has long been active in Michigan politics.
His older brother,
Sander M. Levin, has represented
Michigan's 12th congressional district in the
House of Representatives since 1983. Sandy's son (Carl's nephew)
Levin was a policy analyst for the
and later ran unsuccessfully for the
Michigan Senate. Carl's uncle
Theodore Levin, was a chief judge on the
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Carl's
Charles Levin was a
Michigan Supreme Court judge; another, first cousin, Joseph Levin, was a
candidate for the House.
Carl Levin married Barbara Halpern in 1961 and they have three daughters:
Kate, Laura, and Erica.