After graduating from Harvard Law School, Edelman worked as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg and later as special assistant to Assistant Attorney General John Douglas. During the 1960s, he worked as a legislative assistant for Senator Robert F. Kennedy and was issues director for Kennedy's presidential campaign in 1980. Before joining the faculty at Georgetown University Law Center, Edelman held a variety of public service positions, including vice president of the University of Massachusetts.
In 1996, Edelman resigned from his post as assistant secretary of HHS to protest President Clinton's signing of the welfare reform bill, calling it "the worst thing that Bill Clinton has done."
Edelman is the author of numerous articles on poverty, constitutional law and issues relating to children and youth.
Edelman's talk is the first in a series that will focus on welfare and poverty. Kathryn Edin, professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work (Russell Sage Foundation, 1997), and Vivyan Adair, lecturer in English and women's studies at the University of Washington and a former welfare recipient, also will deliver talks later this spring.
The lecture series is sponsored by the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center and the Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society and Culture.