David Davenport

Research Fellow / Director of Washington, D.C. Programs

David Davenport is a research fellow and director of Washington, DC, Programs at the Hoover Institution. He specializes in international law and treaties, constitutional federalism, and American politics and law.

Davenport is the former president of Pepperdine University (1985–2000). Under his leadership, the university experienced significant growth in quality and reputation. Davenport cofounded Common Sense California and the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership. He also served on the board of California Forward, a major bipartisan reform group, and was a member of Governor Schwarzenegger’s California Performance Review Commission. Davenport is a member of two corporate boards as well.

His work on policy appears in a number of places, including a regular column in Forbes.com and regular radio commentaries on the Salem Radio Network and Townhall.com.

He recently coauthored the book The New Deal and Modern American Conservatism, which explains how the New Deal of the 1930s established the framework for today’s US domestic policy and the ongoing debate between progressives and conservatives.

Davenport has also contributed chapters to Hoover books on values in a free society and legal threats to American values and has authored articles in Policy Review on “The New Diplomacy” and “The Politics of Literacy.” Davenport is a popular public speaker, having served for several years as a world affairs lecturer for Crystal Cruises.

Davenport earned a BA with distinction in international relations from Stanford University and a JD from the University of Kansas School of Law, where he was elected to Order of the Coif and earned national and international awards in moot court competitions.

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Recent Commentary

Featured Commentary

Time To Leave Federalizing Of Education Behind

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Washington, D.C. has managed to take the most basic state and local responsibility—K-12 education—and federalize it at breathtaking speed over the last 12 years.  Now, with the signature piece of federalizing legislation, No Child Left Behind, up for reauthorization in Congress, it is time to put the brakes on this failed and misguided federal experiment.

Featured Commentary

The Era Of Big Government Is Back--Or Did It Ever Leave?

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Wednesday, February 4, 2015

When President Obama introduced his mammoth $4.4 trillion budget this week, he effectively announced that the era of big government is back.  Even his fellow Democrat, Bill Clinton, had famously proclaimed in 1996 that “the era of big government is over.”  This followed Ronald Reagan’s warning in 1981 that “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

The Palestinian People
Featured Commentary

Palestinian Statehood: Who Should Decide And How?

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Friday, January 9, 2015

You would think there would be a clear-cut definition and path for establishing a new nation-state.  But in the Alice in Wonderland world called international law, there is not.  And this very uncertainty has created an opening for Palestine to attempt to shift the political balance in the Middle East and pursue a novel “throw enough against the wall in the hope that something will stick” approach to gaining statehood.

Featured Commentary

David Davenport on Townhall.com

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Monday, January 5, 2015

Research Fellow David Davenport discusses the Forbes study of the best and worst states for business on Townhall.com


David Davenport on Townhall Radio

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Thursday, December 11, 2014

Research Fellow David Davenport discusses the potential for a "liberty moment" in light of the growing disillusionment in the US on Townhall Radio.

Featured Commentary

Washington Policy-Making: Next Two Years Are About Election 2016

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Even though the words policy and politics sound a lot alike and share a Greek origin, in practice they are usually quite different. Running for office is not the same as governing. E.J. Dionne argues in his classic book Why Americans Hate Politics that this very difference is a key part of voters’ frustration.

US Ballot Box Image
Featured Commentary

Will The Mid-Term Elections Make Any Policy Difference?

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Monday, November 3, 2014

As a Californian in a state so tilted in one political direction that few bother to run ads here, I am spared what a friend from Wisconsin, a major battleground state, describes as an endless barrage of political ads and messages this year.

Moral Debts

by David Davenportvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The way we deal with our debts involves more than dollars and cents. It reveals our very character as a people.

Featured Commentary

Houston, We've Got A First Amendment Problem

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It was disclosed this week that attorneys for the city of Houston, Texas have subpoenaed sermons and other writings from local ministers who are opposed to the new Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) championed by its mayor. This would seem to be such an obvious violation of the First Amendment free speech and freedom of religion of pastors that one wonders how lawyers and judges, who presumably studied constitutional law, could have allowed it to get this far.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands
Featured Commentary

War Crimes in Gaza: Why Isn't the International Criminal Court Part of the Solution?

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Monday, October 13, 2014

Twelve years and $1 billion ago, a new International Criminal Court was born. Its stated goal was to prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity so that rulers could not continue to commit these acts with impunity.  One naturally asks, then, why such crimes continue unabated, why after more than a decade and $1 billion of expenditures the Court has only managed to convict two Congolese warlords.