That Time Joe Biden Lied About His Academic Credentials

The presidential candidate bragged about graduating in the top half of his class at law school. He was 76th in a class of 85.

A commenter at the wonderful blog Lawyers, Guns, and Money dug up this C-SPAN video of Joe Biden lying about his academic credentials in 1987. 

He later apologized for misrepresenting his record. Here’s the New York Times report published soon after the incident.

In his statement today, Mr. Biden, who attended the Syracuse College of Law and graduated 76th in a class of 85, acknowledged: “I did not graduate in the top half of my class at law school and my recollection of this was inacurate.”

As for receiving three degrees, Mr. Biden said: “I graduated from the University of Delaware with a double major in history and political science. My reference to degrees at the Claremont event was intended to refer to these majors – I said ‘three’ and should have said ‘two.'” Mr. Biden received a single B.A. in history and political science.

”With regard to my being the outstanding student in the political science department,” the statement went on. “My name was put up for that award by David Ingersoll, who is still at the University of Delaware.”

In the Sunday interview, Mr. Biden said of his claim that he went to school on full academic scholarship: ”My recollection is – and I’d have to confirm this – but I don’t recall paying any money to go to law school.” Newsweek said Mr. Biden had gone to Syracuse ”on half scholarship based on financial need.” 

In his statement today, Mr. Biden did not directly dispute this, but said he received a scholarship from the Syracuse University College of Law “based in part on academics” as well as a grant from the Higher Education Scholarship Fund of the state of Delaware. He said the law school “arranged for my first year’s room and board by placing me as an assitant resident adviser in the undergraduate school.”

As for the moot court competition, Mr. Biden said he had won such a competition, with a partner, in Kingston, Ontario, on Dec. 12, 1967.

You should read the whole thing.

There is also a very weird part of the video where Biden seems to say that Martin Luther King, Jr. and the women’s suffrage movement lacked policy ideas.

“When we got involved in the Civil Rights Movement, Frank, nobody asked Martin Luther King what his legislative agenda was. He marched to change attitudes. When the women’s movement started, it did not move with a constitutional amendment. They marched to change attitudes.”

MLK definitely did have legislative goals! And he was asked about them a lot! Gave a lot of speeches about them! And the women’s suffrage movement was responsible for two constitutional amendments. 

Via, LGM

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate