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

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly 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