Josh Craddock

2019 John Marshall Fellow

What is your current position?

After completing my clerkship with Chief Judge Tymkovich of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit earlier this year, I joined a big law firm in Washington, D.C., as an associate where I work on litigation matters.

How did you hear about the Claremont Institute?

I found out about the Claremont Institute through the writings of Harry V. Jaffa and by reading the Claremont Review of Books. Later, I discovered the Marshall Fellowship through law school friends who became fellows, including (among others) Martin Salvucci, Josh Hammer, John Ehrett, Frank Chang, and Elliot and Alexandra Gaiser.

What is your fondest memory of the Claremont Institute?

The long, deep-into-the-night discussions next to the hot tub about administrative law, originalism, the merits and demerits of the Teddy Roosevelt administration, and the political wisdom esoterically revealed in the Beach Boys’ oeuvre.

There are all sorts of educational programs out there for current and rising conservative professionals.  What do you think makes the Claremont Institute’s Fellowships unique?

As it has for the last forty years, the Claremont Institute provides a philosophical defense of the American regime as an essentially just and noble enterprise. The Fellowship programs equip young conservative professionals to respond to challenges against the American experiment and to consider and prepare for the challenges that lie ahead. The John Marshall Fellowship’s goal to educate lawyers about the foundations of American political and legal thought is particularly welcome, not for nostalgia’s sake but for the future of the republic and the legal community that Tocqueville identified as its aristocracy. Lawyers can be, as that perceptive Frenchman put it, a conservative check against the “revolutionary spirit and unreflective passions of the multitude.”

Who would you hope the individual would be, if you could sit down and enjoy a meal with an American Founder or any great thinker?  What would you discuss? Where would you like to meet? What would you order to eat/drink?  

I would love to have dinner with John Witherspoon—signer of the Declaration, supporter of the Constitution, Presbyterian minister, and president of what is now Princeton University. I’d ask him about his justifications for the American Revolution, his thoughts on Machiavelli, his advocacy of natural law, and for his parenting advice (he was a father of 10). I can’t imagine a better menu than roast lamb, mashed potatoes, and an expensive bottle of Bordeaux.

What would the artifact be, if you could hold one piece of history from the early founding of our country?  Why?

I would want to hold the George Washington Inaugural Bible, the 1767 King James Version upon which Washington swore the presidential oath of office. To me, it represents an incredible moment in our nation’s history as well as the Judeo-Christian principles that undergird our political community.

Who was more important for their time, George Washington or Abraham Lincoln?  Why?

Both were indispensable men. But if preservation of political institutions is a superior act of political virtue than founding a regime, then I would have to side with Abraham Lincoln. America would likely have died in its cradle if Washington had not chosen to freely resign his office and to retire into private life after two terms as president. But the ideals of the Declaration and the American experiment surely could not have survived without the prudent statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln, calling us to live up to “the better angels of our nature.” Navigating that crisis and preserving the Union while remaining true to the principles of the Declaration edges him ahead of the competition in my book.

What would you hope the subject would be, if you should find yourself presenting a case before the US Supreme Court?

Defending the proposition that “all men are created equal” and the Constitutional guarantee of Equal Protection as applied to unborn children.

What do you think has been the major contributor to the demise of our country’s lack of political civility?

It’s not obvious to me that political civility is worse now than it was at earlier points in our nation’s history. The election of 1800 was perhaps the nadir of political civility, and Hamilton and Jefferson viciously attacked one another as existential threats to the republic. And of course the political dispute over slavery led to actual bloodshed during the Civil War. But it does appear that we stand at a tipping point where Americans are questioning the nature and identity of the regime at its most basic level. The magnitude of the stakes involved contributes to an atmosphere of mutual hostility. 

What books are you currently reading?

I am currently reading the Complete Anti-Federalist Papers, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, and The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Up next in my queue are John Marshall by Richard Brookhiser, In Hoffa’s Shadow by Jack Goldsmith, and The Virtue of Nationalism by Yoram Hazony.

What book, movie, or speech has left a lasting impression with you? Why?

John Steinbeck’s East of Eden left an impression on me as one of the most poetic and beautiful books I’ve ever read. The Hamiltons are wonderful characters, full of simple joy and deep sorrow. The book illustrates the possibility of humanity’s beauty and goodness in the midst of sin and brokenness.

Among speeches, I frequently return to Abraham Lincoln’s Address to the Young Men’s Lyceum and Second Inaugural Address. There are perhaps no better examples of political rhetoric. I also love and admire the heroic spiritedness of Sir Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Fight on the Beaches.”

What is the most distinctive attribute/character of the people in the state where you grew up that you genuinely admire?

I’m from Colorado, which is known for its stunning Rocky Mountain vistas. So it isn’t a surprise that outdoorsmanship and physical fitness are part of Colorado culture. Growing up, I camped every month of the year except for December, even when there was 18-inches of snow on the ground. I especially enjoy snow-skiing, mountain biking, fly-fishing, and hiking fourteeners (Colorado has 53 mountains above 14,000 feet elevation and I’ve climbed 8 of them so far).

What is your favorite cultural/recreational pastime (or hobby)? Why?

I really enjoy cooking. It’s a great de-stressing activity. My wife is of Persian descent, so I particularly enjoy cooking Persian meals. If you haven’t tried Persian food, you’re missing out! I recommend gormeh sabzi (an herb stew served over rice with plain yogurt) or zereshk polo (barberry rice with saffron chicken).