In 2008, the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) created the David Aldrich Nelson Lecture in Constitutional Jurisprudence to honor a distinguished member of its board of directors. The annual event is typically held at a venue open to the public on Constitution Day (September 17). The Covid pandemic, however, forced a change in this year’s plans.
Because of the pandemic, AHI Resident Fellow David Frisk consented to have prepared for the occasion a special videotaped lecture “The Constitution and America’s Red-Blue Divide.” The 40-minute lecture is especially timely given the current Supreme Court vacancy and the ensuing high-stakes political battle to fill the seat.
Dr. Frisk’s lecture, the thirteenth in the annual series, begins with an analysis of the intensity of disagreement over constitutional interpretation and discusses the finality of Supreme Court decisions. It then presents insights from the conservative political theorist Willmoore Kendall on the Constitution and ends with a discussion of insights from another prominent scholar, Irving Babbitt, on the nature of responsible government and citizenship.
A resident fellow at the AHI since 2013, Dr. Frisk teaches its popular continuing education
courses as well as directs reading groups. The author of If Not Us, Who? William Rusher, National Review, and the Conservative Movement (ISI Books, 2012), he is currently writing a biography of Kendall, to be published by Encounter Books. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Claremont Graduate University.
The annual lecture honors Judge David Aldrich Nelson (1932-2010), a charter member of AHI’s board of directors. Judge Nelson was graduated from Hamilton College, 1954, valedictorian of his class. He attended the Harvard Law School and read law as a Fulbright Scholar at Cambridge University, in England. President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 1985. Judge Nelson took senior status in 1999 but continued to hear cases until he closed his chambers in 2006.
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