David Davenport

Research Fellow

David Davenport is a research fellow specializing 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. He is also a visiting fellow at the Ashbrook Center (2016).

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


Two Court Cases Remind Us That Ours Is Not An 'Instant Grassification' Constitution

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Tuesday, June 28, 2016

As I drove down a California freeway, I saw a truck hauling sod to someone’s new yard. But it was the sign on the truck that really caught my attention: “Instant Grassification.” Although we live in an instant gratification society, that is precisely the opposite of what the founders sought to establish in our Constitution.

Analysis and Commentary

How Much Do You Know About The Declaration Of Independence?

by David Davenport, Gordon Lloydvia Idaho Statesman
Friday, June 24, 2016

When we celebrate the Fourth of July with a three-day weekend vacation, picnics and fireworks, we sometimes forget the real meaning of the holiday. The quiz below provides an opportunity for you to test and refresh your civic knowledge of the landmark occasion in American history that we celebrate.


Why Business CEOs Don't Make Effective Political Leaders

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Let’s imagine that a major business CEO wanted to run for president of the United States. Oh wait, we don’t have to imagine: the Republicans ran Mitt Romney, longtime CEO of Bain Capital, in 2012 and appear set to nominate Donald Trump, CEO of his own brand, in 2016.

Analysis and Commentary

David Davenport: No To 16-Year-Old Voting

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Monday, June 20, 2016

Ever on the bleeding edge of change, San Francisco is placing a measure on the November ballot to allow 16-year olds to vote. Two cities in Maryland have already done this, and an effort to lower the voting age nationally is underway.

The Supreme Court
Analysis and Commentary

Davenport: State Lawsuits Over Bathrooms About Federal-State Power

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Monday, June 13, 2016

Many cases before the U.S. Supreme Court seem to be about healthcare or education or civil rights but, at a deeper level, they are about federal versus state power. In fact, that is why 11 states recently sued the Obama administration over federal guidance about transgender bathroom rights.


More Than One Way To Trim The Administrative-Regulatory State

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Thursday, June 9, 2016

Although Bill Kristol and others continue to beat the bushes for a conservative candidate willing to run belatedly and independently for president in 2016, conservatives have surely realized they are not likely to have a candidate to vote for, much less elect, in 2016.


No, We Shouldn't Lower The Voting Age To 16

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ever on the bleeding edge of change, San Francisco is placing a measure on the November ballot to allow 16-year olds to vote. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi can barely contain her enthusiasm, “because when kids are in school, they’re so interested, they’re so engaged.” Tell that to the teachers whose students, according to surveys, don’t know who their U.S. senator is or how to amend the Constitution.

Congressman Paul Ryan

Constitutional Kudos To Paul Ryan

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The same bravado and voter frustration that brought Donald Trump to the top of the Republican presidential heap has now turned on House Speaker Paul Ryan. When Ryan said recently that he was not yet ready to endorse Trump, former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said she would work to defeat Ryan in his primary race for reelection to the Congress.

Analysis and Commentary

Davenport: Year Of The Disruptors

by David Davenportvia TownhallReview Commentary
Friday, April 22, 2016

If we made a movie about campaign 2016, it would be “Year of the Disruptors.” On the Republican side, we are down to Donald Trump, a complete disruptor of the political process, and Ted Cruz, a U.S. Senator but a disruptor in style. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is a socialist who wants to disrupt the system, leaving only Hillary Clinton as an establishment candidate.

Analysis and Commentary

Davenport: Judge Erases History

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Thursday, April 21, 2016

College students, seeking to remove the names of campus founders who don’t live up to contemporary standards, aren’t the only ones erasing history. A federal judge in Los Angeles has done some erasing of her own, saying the little tiny cross on top of a mission depicted on the county seal must go.