On October 15, 2020, Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden answered questions during a town hall event broadcast on ABC News. At one point, Biden was asked by a member of the public about the Supreme Court and the possible erosion of LGBTQ rights. As Biden responded, he mentioned something about his life that many viewers apparently found surprising: Biden said he taught constitutional law for 21 years.
Biden, who earned a law degree from Syracuse University in 1968, was an adjunct professor at Widener University Delaware Law School, where he taught constitutional law courses for about 20 years. Biden was not a full-time professor, however, which some viewers may have assumed from the former vice president. comments on “the teaching of constitutional law for 21 years”.
A screenshot of the Biden faculty members page that was archived from the Widener University Delaware Law School website in 2008 shows that the former vice president started as an adjunct professor in 1991.
Although Biden did teach constitutional law classes in school, we’re not entirely clear on some of the surrounding details. For example, Biden was an adjunct professor, which basically means it was a non-tenured part-time position. It’s also unclear how often Biden taught those classes.
In 2008, shortly after Biden became vice president of the United States, Widener published an article congratulating their colleague. This article noted that Biden gave a “seminar” on constitutional law issues:
“This is an extremely important night for Delaware,” Dean Linda L. Ammons said, adding, “We are extremely proud of our colleague.” Vice President-elect and Delaware Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. has served as an adjunct faculty member at Widener Law, Delaware’s only law school, since 1991, teaching a seminar on constitutional law issues.
As the Election Day results fell late Tuesday night, it became clear that Senator Barack Obama of Illinois would be elected as the 44th president and Biden would join him as vice president. Biden’s class has always been one of the most popular seminars offered at Widener Law’s Delaware campus, and usually has a waiting list of students hoping a spot will open up. Senator Biden was also the first speaker at Widener University’s Chester campus in May 2006, and he received an honorary doctorate of laws from the university in May 2000. “If he’s as good a vice president as he’s a faculty member here, then the nation is in good hands,” Dean Ammons noted. Discussing Senator Biden’s future with the school, she said, “He’ll just be on leave here, and I hope to see him again.”
Roll Call added some additional details to Biden’s teaching story in an article published the same year. The Washington, DC News Site reported that Biden taught a seminar called “Selected Topics in Constitutional Law” alongside Professor Robert Hayman, and that he tried to be present for at least half of Saturday morning classes.
While Biden’s day job as a senator may have kept him from teaching every class, his schedule became even busier when he was chosen as the running mate for the presidential candidate. era, Barack Obama, in 2008. In September of that year, The News Journal, a Delaware newspaper, reported that students were “pleasantly surprised” when Biden returned to school to teach his class. :
We’ve reached out to the Biden campaign and Widener University Delaware Law School for more information about the former vice president’s time as an adjunct professor, and we’ll update this article if more information becomes available.