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. He was a visiting fellow at the Ashbrook Center working on civic education from 2016 to 2018.

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

He has coauthored three books with his colleague Gordon Lloyd: How Public Policy Became War (2019), Rugged Individualism: Dead or Alive? (2017), and The New Deal and Modern American Conservatism: A Defining Rivalry (2013). These books offer distinctive ways of understanding both the current and the historic debates 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’s 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

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Area 45: An American Civics Lesson With David Davenport

interview with David Davenportvia Area 45
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Granting 16-years-old the right to vote, abolishing the Electoral College, reshaping the makeup of the Supreme Court, states entering a voting compact…do we need a renewed emphasis on civics education?

Analysis and Commentary

Court Packing Madness

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

While the rest of us enjoy basketball’s March Madness, progressives are creating madness of their own. The latest is their proposal to pack the Supreme Court by adding new seats on the Court for the next president to fill. This is clearly a political ploy to change the present 5-4 conservative makeup to a 6-5 liberal one.


The Worst Attack On The Electoral College: Pretending Every Vote Doesn't Count

by David Davenportvia Washington Examiner
Friday, March 22, 2019

Colleges are under attack today, with the recent admissions scandal triggering charges of inequity in the college admissions process. But Democrats are on the warpath about a particular college, the Electoral College, arguing that it advances its own brand of unfairness.

Analysis and Commentary

Let Him Bake Cake

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Thursday, March 21, 2019

You may remember the baker Jack Phillips in Colorado. As a Christian, Philips felt he could not in good conscience decorate cakes celebrating events that did not square with his beliefs. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission opposed him and, finally, the US Supreme Court said the Commission had acted prejudicially.

In the News

Should The U.S. Lower The Voting Age To 16?

quoting David Davenportvia AL.com
Sunday, March 17, 2019

Nancy Pelosi has become one of the highest-ranking lawmakers to voice their support for lowering the voting age to 16. As youth activism in the country has increased in the wake of a series of deadly school shootings, many have argued these children deserve the right to vote for the lawmakers representing them. Several states, including Oregon and California, are currently considering bills which would lower the voting age from 18. Others say 16 is too young to make such important decisions. What do you think?

Analysis and Commentary

David Davenport: What A National Emergency Actually Means

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Friday, March 15, 2019
Few Americans realize that they currently live under some 30 states of national emergency, the oldest declared by President Jimmy Carter during the Iran hostage crisis 40 years ago. Actual emergencies come and go but emergency declarations live on.
Analysis and Commentary

The Real March Madness: Progressives Want To Pack The Supreme Court

by David Davenportvia Washington Examiner
Friday, March 15, 2019

While the country gears up for college basketball’s March Madness, progressives already have their own season of silliness in full swing. The latest is a proposal to let the president (only when Democrats retake the White House, of course) add and fill additional seats on the Supreme Court. Former Attorney General Eric Holder likes the idea (let’s add two, he says), as does Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and several progressive groups.


David Davenport: Young People Lurching Left

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Wednesday, February 27, 2019

With four cities permitting 16-year old voting and several states considering it, what we have not known is how they might vote. Thanks to a study by the Pew Foundation, now we do and it’s troubling.

Analysis and Commentary

The Green New Deal And The Politics Of Pessimism

by David Davenportvia Washington Examiner
Monday, February 25, 2019

I read House Resolution 109 introducing the Green New Deal so you won’t have to. I already knew that it was an effort to reinvent the economy, while also keeping sea levels from rising, eliminating unemployment, and guaranteeing healthcare for all. This new utopia was supposed to be available to us for a mere $90 billion.

Analysis and Commentary

David Davenport: Doom And Gloom Of The Green New Deal

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Friday, February 22, 2019

It’s amazing that more than 70 House members and a dozen senators have already signed onto the Green New Deal. I say amazing for two reasons: (1) It is full of doom and gloom, and (2) will cost a staggering $90 billion and counting.