One of the Harvard Journal on Legislation’s former editors revealed Monday that he was “shocked by the plagiarism” that he discovered in a 2000 article submitted by then-Sen. Joe Biden.
Roger Severino, now vice president of domestic policy at The Heritage Foundation, weighed in Monday in a Twitter thread on the president’s “tradition of embellishing,” as analyzed by The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“My first assignment as a junior editor at the Harvard Journal on Legislation (1999-2000) was to cite check an article submitted by one Sen. Joseph R. Biden,” Severino explained. His tweet thread links to the now-president’s article, titled “The Civil Rights Remedy of the Violence Against Women Act: A Defense.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Signal.
“Cite-checking involves formatting case citations under highly prescribed rules and searching Westlaw to make sure the cases haven’t been overruled or superseded,” Severino explained. “Because I was interested in the article’s topic (civil rights), I read a bunch of the cited cases all the way through.”
Severino said that at this point, he noticed that “a certain turn of phrase” in one of the opinions he was reading sounded “oddly familiar.”
“So, I turned back to Biden’s article, and there it was,” he said. “He had lifted language straight out of a [Supreme Court] opinion, changed a couple words, and called them his own. There were no quote marks and no footnote or anything else attributing the court as the source.”
“I then read the piece through again, and multiple other phrases sounded familiar,” he continued. “Turns out they, too, were plagiarized from opinions. I believe this merited rejecting the article outright for plagiarism, so I emailed the lead editor and presented the indisputable proof.”
The Harvard Journal on Legislation’s editors “covered for Biden,” according to Severino.
“They ‘fixed’ the plagiarism by adding proper attributions and acted like the whole incident never happened,” he said. “But this was no innocent mistake, where Biden ‘forgot’ a quote mark or two, which would be bad enough. Instead, he engaged in ‘mosaic plagiarism,’ which entails taking a quote and swapping some words with synonyms to make the plagiarism harder to detect. This indicates what’s known in law as ‘consciousness of guilt.’”
Severino added: “Worse still, Biden was *already* known to have plagiarized before this article crossed my desk, yet was brazen enough to try it again.”
Biden has previously admitted to “a mistake” in plagiarizing five pages from a published law review article without quoting or attributing that article while he was at Syracuse University College of Law in the 1960s. The school’s faculty ultimately decided Biden would get an “F” in the course, but could retake it and get a new grade, according to The New York Times.
“My intent was not to deceive anyone,” Biden wrote in a November 1965 letter defending himself to the faculty. ”For if it were, I would not have been so blatant.”
“I was wrong, but I was not malevolent in any way,” he added. “I did not intentionally move to mislead anybody. And I didn’t. To this day I didn’t.”
The Harvard Journal on Legislation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Signal.
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