In Memoriam: Charles Levin, former MSC Justice
November 21, 2020
The State Bar of Michigan mourns the loss of former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Charles Levin, who died Nov. 19, at the age of 94.
Justice Levin served on the Michigan Supreme Court for 24 years. In 1971, while sitting as a Michigan Court of Appeals judge, he famously adapted the Michigan Supreme Court party nomination process created by the 1963 Michigan Constitution to his own purposes by creating the Non-Partisan Judicial Party, collecting signatures, holding a convention in his basement, and winning election. Chief Justice Bridget McCormack recognized that singular event in her statement on Justice Levin’s passing. “Justice Levin’s legacy is marked by great scholarship, independence, compassion and courage,” Chief Justice McCormack said. “He started his own party in order to run for the Supreme Court, a courageous act of independence that is a model for us all.”
Janet Welch, the executive director of the State Bar whose work as a law clerk to Justice Robert Griffin and in the office of Chief Justice took place during Justice Levin’s tenure, paid similar tribute to Justice Levin. “Clerks for the other justices always eagerly awaited the circulation of draft opinions from Justice Levin. His independence made predictions about an opinion risky, but one thing could be taken for granted: the opinion would be impeccably researched, beautifully written, and thought-provoking. And Justice Levin was equally respected for his unfailing decency and kindness to everyone.”
Justice Levin received his A.B. and LL.B degrees from the University of Michigan and entered practice in 1947. After graduation, he clerked for Judge Charles C. Simons of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In 1950, he joined the firm Levin, Levin, Garvett & Dill, founded by his father Theodore and Uncle Saul Levin, where he practiced corporate, real estate and tax law for 17 years before election in 1966 to the Court of Appeals.
Justice Levin is survived by his former wife Judge Helene White, his children, Amy (Matt) Levin Ragen, Fredrick Stuart (Marsha) Levin, Benjamin Joseph White Levin and Francesca Rhoda White Levin, and his grandchildren, Jacob Eliot Ragen, Joshua Brooks Ragen, and Emily Rose Levin, and siblings Mimi (Charles z”l) Levin Lieber, Daniel (Fay Hartog) Levin, and Joseph (Diana McBroom) Levin. He was previously married to the late Dr. Patricia Oppenheim Levin Rice z”l. His oldest son Arthur David Levin z”l passed away in 2009.
A private memorial service was held on November 20.
Interview with former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Charles L. Levin