Peter Edelman is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches constitutional law and poverty law and is faculty director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality. On the faculty since 1982, he has also served in all three branches of government. During President Clinton’s first term he was Counselor to HHS Secretary Donna Shalala and then Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

Professor Edelman has been Associate Dean of the Law Center, Director of the New York State Division for Youth, and Vice President of the University of Massachusetts. He was a Legislative Assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and was Issues Director for Senator Edward Kennedy’s Presidential campaign in 1980. Earlier, he was a Law Clerk to Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg and before that to Judge Henry J. Friendly on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He also worked in the U.S. Department of Justice as Special Assistant to Assistant Attorney General John Douglas.

Professor Edelman’s recent book, Not a Crime to Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America, was published by The New Press in 2017. He previously wrote So Rich So Poor: Why It’s So Hard To End Poverty in America which was also published by The New Press in 2012. And before that he wrote Searching for America’s Heart: RFK and the Renewal of Hope, which was published by Houghton-Mifflin in 2001. He also co-authored Reconnecting Disadvantaged Young Men, which was published by the Urban Institute in 2006, and is the author of many articles on poverty, constitutional law, and issues about children and youth. His article in the Atlantic Monthly, entitled “The Worst Thing Bill Clinton Has Done,” received the Harry Chapin Media Award.

Peter Edelman is currently chair of the District of Columbia Access to Justice Commission, and formerly board chair of the National Center for Youth, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, and the Public Welfare Foundation, board president emeritus of the New Israel Fund, and a board member of the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and a half dozen other nonprofit organizations.

He has been a United States-Japan Leadership Program Fellow, was the J. Skelly Wright Memorial Fellow at Yale Law School, and has received numerous honors and awards for his work. He grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Contributions to Law Reviews and Other Scholarly Journals

Peter B. Edelman, Criminalization of Poverty: Much More to Do, 69 Duke L.J. Online 114-136 (2020).
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Peter B. Edelman, Introductory Remarks, Fulfilling Olmstead, 27 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol’y 197-198 (2020).
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Peter B. Edelman, The Criminalization of Poverty and the People Who Fight Back, 26 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol’y 213-226 (2019).
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U.S. Supreme Court Briefs

Brief Amici Curiae Constitutional Law Scholars in Support of Appellants, Castanon v. United States, No. 20-1279 (U.S. Apr. 14, 2021).

Book Chapters & Collected Works

Peter B. Edelman, Criminalization of Poverty: Fines, Fees, Money Bail and Much More, in The Routledge Companion to Media and Poverty 340-350 (Sandra L. Borden ed., New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group 2021).