Widener Law students visit U.S. Senator – and Professor – Joseph Biden on the job in Washington
Public Relations - Published: February 24, 2008
biden dc 1sm A group of Widener Law students got an up-close look at government in action recently when they traveled to Washington, D.C. to a visit their professor, U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden, D.-Del, on the job.

Biden co-teaches a Saturday morning seminar on constitutional law with Widener Law Professor Robert L. Hayman Jr. Biden, Hayman and 13 students were in Washington Feb. 13, where the group attended the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing – chaired by Biden – in which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified about the final State Department budget proposal under the Bush Administration. They also toured the Senate and House of Representatives buildings and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Before convening the committee hearing, Biden met with the Widener group in his office and told an emotional story about the large conference table at which they sat. He inherited the table when he assumed the Russell Senate Office Building space from the late Sen. John C. Stennis, a Mississippi Democrat who was retiring after nearly 42 years in the Senate.

biden dc 2sm Biden explained that his arrival in the second-floor office space broke up what had been known as “Confederate Row” at the Russell building. The c onference table was the place on which the Southern Manifesto, a document written by legislators opposed to integration of public places, had been signed and around which lawmakers had spent countless hours attempting to plot the demise of the civil rights movement. He said he talked with Stennis about taking over the office space, and Stennis recalled that the first time the men had met 18 years earlier, Biden told him he was running for office out of a desire to support civil rights.

“It’s time,” Biden recalled Stennis telling him, “that this table moved from possession of a man against civil rights to the possession of a man for civil rights.”

That meeting, Biden said, stands out in his mind for the message that there is always hope for change.


biden dc 3 “You can’t be here a long time and be engaged, and not learn. You can’t be here and be engaged, and not grow,” he said.

Students Robert Cervone and Joanne Spruill said they felt honored to be enrolled in Biden’s class, to have the opportunity to learn the law from such a dynamic man and to be invited to Washington to see him at work.

“He’s actually a part of what we’re learning in school,” Cervone said.

Biden has been a member of the Widener Law adjunct faculty for 16 years and has never missed a semester of teaching, even during his recent attempt to win the Democratic nomination for president.


“Sen. Biden plays an important role on our adjunct faculty and we deeply value his longstanding commitment to Widener Law and its students. Opportunities like this field trip demonstrate the depth our adjunct faculty adds to a Widener education,” Law Dean Linda L. Ammons said. “I thank Sen. Biden for opening up the doors of government to our students and sharing this special day with them.”

Photos:
1
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., stands with members of the constitutional law seminar he teaches with Professor Robert L. Hayman Jr., who is right of him. The law students were also accompanied by Law Professor and Associate Dean of Faculty Research and Development Erin Daly, second from right, and Hayman's son and Daly's son, standing in front.

2
 Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del, talks with Widener students who visited him at work in Washington, D.C.

3
 Widener Law students attended a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, chaired by Sen. Joseph Biden in which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified about the final State Department budget proposal under the Bush Administration.