|John C. Eastman, Charles R. Kesler, Ryan Williams|
(FYE June 2015)
The Claremont Institute is an American conservative think tank based in Claremont, California. The institute was founded in 1979 by four students of Harry V. Jaffa and came to prominence under the leadership of Larry P. Arnn, who was its president from 1985 until 2000. The Institute publishes the Claremont Review of Books, a quarterly journal of political thought and statesmanship, as well as other books and publications.
The Claremont Institute seeks to establish a limited and accountable government that respects natural law, private property, promotes a stable family life, and maintains a strong national defense. The Claremont Institute takes up issues specific to California, where it is based, while also operating in a national context.
The institute was founded in 1979 by four students of Harry V. Jaffa, a professor emeritus at Claremont McKenna College and the Claremont Graduate University, although the Institute has no affiliation with any of the Claremont Colleges.
The current president is Michael Pack, a documentarian who served on the National Council of the National Endowment for Humanities and as senior vice president of Television Programming at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and who collaborated with Steve Bannon on two films.
Today, approximately 20 staff members now coordinate conferences, lecture series, and other projects. The Institute also publishes the Claremont Review of Books, a quarterly journal of political thought and statesmanship, as well as other books and publications, including reprints of Jaffa's works.
The stated mission of Claremont Institute is to teach the practical application of the principles of the American Founding to the next generation of Conservative leaders, and to build them into a community dedicated to preserving constitutional government.
Some conservatives start, as it were, from Edmund Burke; others from Friedrich Hayek. While we respect both thinkers and their schools of thought, we begin instead from America, the American political tradition in all its genius and profundity, and the relation of our tradition to revealed wisdom and to what the elderly Jefferson once called, rather insouciantly, "the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc." We think conservatism should take its bearings from the founders' statesmanship, our citizens' loyalty to the Declaration and Constitution, and the scenes, both tender and proud, of our national history. This kind of approach clears the air. It concentrates the mind. It engages and informs the ordinary citizen's patriotism. And it introduces a new, sharper view of liberalism as descended not from the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, nor (God forbid) Abraham Lincoln, but from that movement which, a century ago, criticized George Washington's and Lincoln's Constitution as outmoded and, as we'd say today, racist, sexist, and antidemocratic. The Progressives broke with the old Constitution and its postulates, and set out to make a new, living constitution and a new, unlimited state, and the Obama Administration's programs are merely the latest, and worst, installment of that purported evolution.
The Institute's guiding text is the Declaration of Independence, and especially its central proposition that "all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."
Atypical for a U.S. conservative organization, members of the Claremont Institute tend to reject the constitutional philosophy of strict constructionism and it often publishes material that is critical of conservative strict constructionists such as Robert Bork, William Rehnquist, and Antonin Scalia. This is consistent with the Institute's emphasis on the principles of the Declaration of Independence as distinct from the U.S. Constitution.
According to some Institute writers, their legal philosophy is closer to that of Clarence Thomas, who has said the Institute has "played a significant role in my own education"; supporters include columnist William Rusher, British historian Sir Martin Gilbert, Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak, Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr., and the late Sonny Bono.
Notable staff and fellows
- William J. Bennett (Washington Fellow)
- Paul Mirengoff (Institute Fellow)
- Mark Helprin (Senior Fellow)
- William A. Rusher (In Memoriam)
- Harry V. Jaffa (Distinguished Fellow)
- Charles R. Kesler (Senior Fellow)
- John H. Hinderaker (Institute Fellow)
- John Marini (senior fellow)
- Michael Uhlmann
- Scott W. Johnson (Institute Fellow)
- Michael Pack (President of the Institute)
The Institute publishes the Claremont Review of Books, a quarterly journal of political thought and statesmanship founded in 2000. The CRB is edited by prominent scholar and Institute mainstay Charles R. Kesler and features regular columns by Boston College faculty member Martha Bayles, as well as novelist and journalist Mark Helprin.
Publius Fellows program
The Publius program is the Institute's oldest fellowship program. Since 1979, the Institute has hosted a number of young conservatives for seminars and symposia on American politics and political thought. Publius fellows, usually college seniors, recent college graduates, and graduate students meet with the Institute's fellows and other distinguished scholars for several weeks during the summer.
Lincoln Fellows program
Since 1996, the internship has offered fellowships to young professionals serving elected officials or appointed policy-makers in the federal government, as well as staff members of national political parties and non-profit institutions that research and publish on public policy and constitutional issues.
Among the 60 alumni of the program are senior staff members of U.S. Representatives and Senators, White House speech writers, legal counsel and senior advisors in the U.S. Departments of Justice and State, as well as political editorialists for the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard.
Notable alumni of the Lincoln Fellowship include former California State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, now a vice president with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, political commentator Carol Platt Liebau, editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez, attorney and talk radio host Mark Levin, and Delaware politician Christine O'Donnell.
Ronald Reagan Freedom Medallion
2010 Nevada Senate candidate Sharon Angle received the Ronald Reagan Freedom Medallion from the Claremont Institute in 2004 a year after she hired John C. Eastman of the Claremont Institute to fight the Supreme Court decision when then Governor Kenny Guinn sued the Legislature to nullify the state constitution and allow a simple majority of the legislature to pass an $836 million tax increase in Angle v. Guinn.. In 2006, the state supreme court reversed its 2003 decision and restored the Nevada Constitution's two-thirds vote provision.
Debates with Ludwig von Mises Institute
The Ludwig von Mises Institute (LvMI) is one of Claremont's most frequent sparring partners among conservative think tanks. Though both hold similar positions on many moral and economic issues in general, the two are substantially different in other aspects of their respective political philosophies.
The two differ radically in their opinions about Abraham Lincoln and have engaged debates about whether Lincoln should be embraced or shunned by conservatives. This controversy over Lincoln's significance to conservatives predates both think tanks, and encompasses Jaffa's debates on the subject with National Review editor Frank Meyer and scholar M.E. Bradford. In 2002, Jaffa debated Thomas DiLorenzo, a Senior Fellow at the LvMI on the merits of Lincoln's statesmanship during the American Civil War.
- "Leadership". The Claremont Institute. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
- "Claremont Institute" (PDF). Foundation Center. 30 June 2015. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
- Michael Pack (March 20, 2017). "Will Steve Bannon Help Break Left's Monopoly on Documentaries". The Federalist. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
- "Claremont's Mission". The Claremont Institute. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
- Kesler, Charles. "A Decade of CRB". Claremont Institute. Claremont Institute. Retrieved 2011-08-01.
- Johnson, Reed (March 6, 2001). "Claremont Institute's Mission: Conservative". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-09-27.
These and other vital matters of statecraft press heavily on the staff of the Claremont Institute, a scrappy cadre of a few dozen men and women with a singular, uncompromising mission: to remake American politics in the sacrosanct image set down by our Founding Fathers—not in the Constitution, but in the Declaration of Independence—while steering the nation away from its present, perilous path of political and moral 'degradation.'
- "Getting Real With Justice Thomas". Claremont Institute. October 1, 1999.
- "Former Lincoln Fellows". Claremont Institute. Retrieved 2011-09-27.
- "541 US 957 Angle Nevada State Assembly Member et al. v. Guinn Governor of Nevada et al.". Open Jurist. March 22, 2004. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
- Whaley, Sean (September 12, 2006). "Court reverses opinion from '03". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
- Jaffa, Harry V.; DiLorenzo, Thomas J. (May 7, 2002). "The Real Abraham Lincoln: A Debate". The Independent Institute. Retrieved 2011-09-27.