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David French

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David French
French in 2012
David Austin French

(1969-01-24) January 24, 1969 (age 55)
EducationLipscomb University (BA)
Harvard University (JD)
Political partyRepublican (before 2018)
Independent (2018–present)
SpouseNancy Anderson
Military career
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service2007–2014
UnitJudge Advocate General's Corps
Battles/warsIraq War
AwardsBronze Star Medal[1]

David Austin French (born January 24, 1969) is an American political commentator and former attorney who has argued high-profile religious liberty cases. He was formerly a fellow at the National Review Institute and a staff writer for National Review from 2015 to 2019. French is senior editor of The Dispatch, a visiting professor of public policy at Lipscomb University, and a columnist for The New York Times.

Early life and education


French was born in Opelika, Alabama. His parents were students at nearby Auburn University.[2]

French graduated summa cum laude from Lipscomb University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.[3][4] He then went on to Harvard Law School where he graduated cum laude in 1994 with a Juris Doctor degree.[5][6][7]



French has served as a senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice and the Alliance Defending Freedom,[8] has lectured at Cornell Law School, and spent much of his career working on religious rights issues.[9] He served as president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).[6] French retired from FIRE in 2005, citing plans to serve in the United States Army Reserve as a judge-advocate general officer.[10][11] He left the legal practice in 2015, and became a staff writer for National Review from 2015 to 2019,[12][13] and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.[14]

French has authored several books,[6] including the non-fiction Divided We Fall (2020).[15][16]

French is senior editor of The Dispatch,[17] and occasionally a contributing writer for The Atlantic. French is a distinguished visiting professor of public policy at Lipscomb University, his alma mater.[18]

French became a New York Times columnist in January 2023.[19]

LGBT issues


In August 2017, French was one of several co-authors of the Nashville Statement, which affirmed "that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness."[20] The statement was criticized by pro-LGBT Christians and LGBT rights activists,[21][22] as well as by several conservative religious figures.[23][24]

In November 2022, French announced that he had "changed his mind" on the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, although stating he was still morally opposed to the matter. He wrote that his "reasoning tracked my lifelong civil libertarian beliefs" and that:[25]

Millions of Americans have formed families and live their lives in deep reliance on Obergefell being good law. It would be profoundly disruptive and unjust to rip out the legal superstructure around which they've ordered their lives.[25]

Military service


French is a former major in the United States Army Reserve[26] and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.[6] French was deployed to Iraq in 2007 during the Iraq War, serving in Diyala Governorate as squadron judge-advocate.[27] He was awarded a Bronze Star.[26]

Potential 2016 U.S. presidential campaign


French briefly considered entering the 2016 U.S. presidential race, citing his strong moral objections to U.S. Republican Party presumptive nominee Donald Trump. He ultimately decided that he had neither the name recognition nor the financial support to mount a viable campaign.[28]

Attacks by the alt-right


In 2016 French, his wife, and his family were the subject of online attacks when he criticized then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and the alt-right. French was bombarded with hateful tweets, including an image of his daughter in a gas chamber.[29]

Dispute with Sohrab Ahmari


A dispute between French and conservative New York Post editor Sohrab Ahmari broke out in the summer of 2019 as a result of the publication of Ahmari's polemical First Things article entitled "Against David French-ism."[30] The dispute centered on their differing opinions on how conservatives should approach cultural and political debate and issues, with Ahmari arguing for a more ideologically firm approach against French's libertarian views.[31][32]

Personal life


French is an evangelical Christian.[9] He is married to author Nancy French.[33] French and his family live in Franklin, Tennessee.[34] They have three children, including a daughter adopted from Ethiopia.[35]


  • A Season for Justice: Defending the Rights of the Christian Church, Home, and School. Broadman & Holman. 2002. ISBN 0-8054-2491-1.[36]
  • Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War. Center Street. 2011. ISBN 978-1-931722-90-2. With Nancy French.[37]
  • The Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can't Ignore. Howard Books. 2014. ISBN 978-1-5011-0513-5. With Jay Sekulow, Jordan Sekulow, and Robert Ash.[38]
  • Divided We Fall: America's Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation. St. Martin's Press. 2020. ISBN 978-1250201973.


  1. ^ Corbett, Erin (May 31, 2016). "Who Is David French? Bill Kristol Has Suggested a Third-Party Candidate to Run against Trump". Bustle. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  2. ^ French, David (22 July 2020). "Episode 414: Religious Power vs. Religious Liberty with David French". Holy Post Podcast (Podcast). Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  3. ^ "David French Mediation Attorney – Child Custody Mediation Attorney in Kentucky". Mediation. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  4. ^ "Lipscomb Conversations program discusses threats to national community Oct. 4 |". www.lipscomb.edu. 30 September 2005.
  5. ^ "ADF files lawsuit to stop ongoing attacks on religious groups at the University of Wisconsin". Alliance Defending Freedom. November 9, 2006. Archived from the original on July 13, 2019. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Moore, Jack (June 1, 2016). "Who Is David French, the Third-Party Conservative Who Might Be Running for President?". GQ.
  7. ^ Olasky, Marvin. "A patriot's perspective - WORLD". world.wng.org.
  8. ^ Morrow, Brendan (May 31, 2016). "David French: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Wallace-Wells, Benjamin (2019-09-12). "David French, Sohrab Ahmari, and the Battle for the Future of Conservatism". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-09-12.
  10. ^ "A Personal Message from FIRE President David French". November 11, 2005. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  11. ^ "A Q & A with evangelical writer David French on Christian nationalism". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2022-08-16.
  12. ^ French, David (October 18, 2019). "Farewell". National Review.
  13. ^ "David French Joins The Times as an Opinion Columnist". The New York Times Company. 2023-01-03. Retrieved 2023-03-18.
  14. ^ David French (March 22, 2017). "The Left Distorts Originalism to Attack Judge Gorsuch". National Review. Retrieved March 24, 2017. Having failed to undermine Gorsuch's nomination on substantive grounds, liberals are now using a straw-man argument instead
  15. ^ Kirchick, James (2020-09-22). "The Divisions That Are Destroying the Country". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-03-18.
  16. ^ Oregonian/OregonLive, Douglas Perry | The (2020-09-08). "Conservative intellectual David French fears secession but makes a strong case for it: 'Divided We Fall' review". oregonlive. Retrieved 2023-03-18.
  17. ^ Rowland, Geoffrey (March 1, 2019). "National Review's Goldberg, Weekly Standard's Hayes to launch conservative media company". The Hill. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  18. ^ Lathan, Angele (August 31, 2023). "Lipscomb University taps conservative columnist David French as visiting professor". The Tennessean. Gannett. Retrieved 21 September 2023.
  19. ^ Mastrangelo, Dominick (January 3, 2023). "Conservative writer David French joining New York Times". The Hill. Retrieved January 4, 2023.
  20. ^ "Hundreds of Christian leaders denounce the Nashville Statement in an open letter," Human Rights Campaign, August 31, 2017
  21. ^ Williams, Hattie (1 September 2017). "Nashville statement on sexuality prompts response from LGBT-supporting Christians". Church Times. Archived from the original on 2 September 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  22. ^ "Evangelicals and the Nashville Statement: What is the point?". Christian Today. 31 August 2017. Archived from the original on 1 September 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  23. ^ Beaty, Katelyn (31 August 2017). "Why even conservative evangelicals are unhappy with the anti-LGBT Nashville Statement". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2 September 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  24. ^ Keating, Joshua (2020-09-25). "David French's New Book Arguing That the U.S. Will Break Apart Is Too Optimistic". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2023-03-18.
  25. ^ a b French, David (November 21, 2022). "Why I Changed My Mind About Law and Marriage, Again". The Dispatch. Retrieved 2022-11-21.
  26. ^ a b "'National Review' Writer And Former Service Member On Defining Patriotism". NPR.org. May 26, 2018.
  27. ^ Stanley, Paul (September 16, 2011). "Nancy French Talks About Career as Mom, Wife and Bestselling Author". Christian Post. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  28. ^ Bennett, James (June 18, 2016). "David French came 'really close' to running for president". The Daily Herald. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  29. ^ "Harassed On Twitter: 'People Need To Know The Reality Of What It's Like Out There'". NPR. October 26, 2016.
  30. ^ "Against David French-ism | Sohrab Ahmari". First Things. 29 May 2019. Retrieved 2022-08-16.
  31. ^ Ahmari, Sohrab (May 29, 2019). "Against David French-ism". First Things. Retrieved June 30, 2019.
  32. ^ Coaston, Jane (2019-06-05). "David French vs. Sohrab Ahmari and the battle dividing conservatives, explained". Vox. Retrieved 2022-08-16.
  33. ^ Halperin, Mark; Heilemann, John (May 31, 2016). "Kristol Eyes Conservative Lawyer David French for Independent Presidential Run". Bloomberg Politics. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  34. ^ French, David (June 8, 2021). "How Can We Escape the COVID-19 Vaccine Culture Wars?". Time. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  35. ^ Easley, Jonathan (June 5, 2016). "Who is David French?". The Hill. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  36. ^ "Tuesday, Nov. 10: National Review's David French Lecture". Iowa State University. November 10, 2015. Retrieved May 31, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  37. ^ McDevitt, Caitlin (July 12, 2011). "Meet Bristol Palin's ghostwriter". Politico. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  38. ^ "Rise of ISIS". USA Today. June 21, 2013. Retrieved May 31, 2016.