Justice Steven Levinson


Honored Guest Retired Associate Justice Steven H. Levinson

Steven H. Levinson was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended Stanford University (from which he graduated “with distinction” with a B.A. in Political Science) and the University of Michigan Law School (from which he received a J.D. in 1971).

Retired Justice Levinson’s 48 years of legal experience include a one-year clerkship with the Hawai`i Supreme Court, seventeen years in private practice, three years as a circuit court judge (Criminal Division) of the Hawai`i First Circuit Court, and seventeen years as an Associate Justice of the Hawai`i Supreme Court, from which he retired at the end of 2008.

During his tenure on the Court, he authored 271 published opinions, of which 231 were published opinions of the court, including Baehr v. Lewin (1993), which was the first appellate decision in American history to hold that a state’s marriage laws were presumptively unconstitutional for discriminatorily prohibiting same sex couples from marrying.

He also authored numerous opinions addressing the lawful limits of governmental intrusion into the private affairs of individuals, the legitimacy of police interrogations and searches and seizures, and other related subjects. He was the Court’s liaison to the Hawai`i State Bar Association and the Hawai`i Justice Foundation and served as chair and member of various commissions and task forces pertaining to the Hawai`i Penal Code, the Code of Judicial Conduct, drug policy, and jury innovations.

He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Temple Emanu-El for ten years and has been actively involved in the Hawai`i Speech League and the Center for Civic Education’s “We the People” program. He received the 2006 Allies for Justice Award from the American Bar Association’s Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities and the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association, the 2010 Champions of Justice Award from the Hawai`i State Bar Association, and the 2013 Equality Hawaii Lifetime Achievement Award and Hawaii United for Marriage Advocacy Awards.

From October 2009 through May 2017, he served as a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and was a board member of Equality Hawaii, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, from 2010 through 2013. Since September 2014, he has been a member of the board of directors of The Actors’ Group (TAG), a local community theatre company. On December 2, 2016, he was sworn in as a member of the Honolulu Police Commission and served as the Commission’s Vice Chair during 2018.