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

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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