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


States Are Experimenting With Voting Systems — Some Work Better Than Others

by David Davenportvia Washington Examiner
Monday, November 12, 2018

Although the 2018 elections were held last week, the madness continues. As it was in the 2000 presidential election, Florida is once again embroiled in recounts for both its gubernatorial and Senate races, accompanied by allegations of lost and stolen ballots and lawsuits.

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A Chevron Revolution In The Supreme Court?

by David Davenportvia Defining Ideas
Friday, October 26, 2018

A new book proposes a rollback of the administrative state.

Analysis and Commentary

What’s At Stake In The 2018 Elections

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Thursday, October 25, 2018

435 House and 33 Senate seats. 36 governorships. 6,665 state offices and tens of thousands of local ones. And you ask what’s at stake in the 2018 elections?


Trump: A Presidency Perpetually In Search Of A 'Better Deal'

by David Davenportvia Washington Examiner
Thursday, October 25, 2018

President Franklin Roosevelt had his “New Deal” and Harry Truman his “Fair Deal,” both of which were anchored in philosophical ideas about American domestic and economic policy. As we near the end of two years of Trump’s presidency, it seems fair to characterize his non-philosophical approach to governing as a continuous search for a “better deal.”


Time's Up: Brett Kavanaugh Chaos Is Why The Supreme Court Needs Term Limits

by David Davenportvia Washington Examiner
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Supreme Court opened its new term this week, but hardly anyone noticed. Instead the attention is drawn to the one empty seat and the process to fill it. The descriptive terms in the media tells us all we need to know about the faulty process: chaos, contentious, meltdown, Armageddon, battle, wounds, nuclear option, battle lines. One justice’s retirement has opened up bitter divides and has led to all-out warfare in Washington.

Analysis and Commentary

The U.S. Is Right To Oppose An ICC Investigation In Afghanistan

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Monday, October 1, 2018

National security advisor John Bolton caused a stir by announcing that the U.S. would actively oppose an investigation by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court into criminal acts by Americans in Afghanistan. Bolton said sanctions against members of the Court might be applied.

Analysis and Commentary

Kids Don't Know Enough About Civics — But This Could Save Them

by David Davenportvia Washington Examiner
Thursday, September 20, 2018

An important life was cut short this week in Ashland, Ohio, when 44-year-old Roger Beckett passed away. As executive director of the Ashbrook Center, Roger’s noble goal was nothing less than saving the republic by strengthening America’s anemic approach to civic education. The tool he chose to do this was both surprising and powerful: training and retraining teachers of history and civics to teach using primary documents.

Analysis and Commentary

John Bolton Is Right To Call Out The International Criminal Court's Political Agenda

by David Davenportvia Washington Examiner
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

National security adviser John Bolton stirred the international waters this week by calling out the International Criminal Court for what it is and has always been — a political institution with an agenda, clothed in the finery of judicial robes. 

Analysis and Commentary

Should The Voting Age Be Lowered?

by David Davenportvia The New York Times Upfront
Monday, September 3, 2018

Following the student protests against gun violence in school has come a renewed call to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote. But it would be a mistake to lower the voting age. Demonstrating is not the same as voting, which requires a higher level of civic responsibility and knowledge.


Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting For The Socialist Sweep In 2018

by David Davenportvia Washington Examiner
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

It’s election season, and madness is in the air. Besides the usual questions in a midterm election — who will carry the House and Senate, and how many seats will the incumbent president lose — the word socialism, rarely heard in American politics, is out in the open. A few candidates are actually running for office under the socialism banner. But what does that mean for the 2018 elections and beyond?