David Kaplan

• Award-winning journalist, & author of several books, including 'The Most Dangerous Branch'


David A. Kaplan has been an award-winning, nationally known journalist for more than 30 years—chiefly as the legal affairs editor at Newsweek for a decade. He also is the author of four books, including a highly anticipated behind-the-scenes narrative of the Supreme Court (Random House, September 2018), called The Most Dangerous Branch.

At Newsweek, Kaplan’s cover stories included profiles of Justices Clarence Thomas and William Brennan Jr., George Steinbrenner, and Rudy Giuliani, along with feature stories on the creation of Netscape, the selling of “Star Wars,” and the great home-run chase of the summer of ’98. His 2006 cover story, “The Boss Who Spied on Her Board,” broke the Hewlett-Packard boardroom scandal, which led to state indictments and a congressional investigation.

Kaplan’s books include The Silicon Boys (a New York Times bestseller about the history and culture of Silicon Valley that has been translated into six languages); The Accidental President (an account of the 2000 election on which the Emmy-winning HBO film “Recount” was based); and Mine’s Bigger (a biography of the largest privately owned sailboat in history and the Silicon Valley venture capitalist who built it—the book won the Loeb Award for Best Business Book of 2008). His book on the Supreme Court, The Most Dangerous Branch, argues that the justices—liberal and conservative alike—have become too arrogant, too involved in American life. Kaplan interviewed a majority of the justices for the book.

Prior to joining Newsweek, Kaplan practiced law on Wall Street, worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, and was a White House intern (back when that was respectable). He also has written for The New York Times front page and Op-Ed page, as well as The New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, Wired, Ski, and Food & Wine. He is an adjunct professor at both NYU and CUNY, teaching ethics and First Amendment law. Most impressing his two sons, he finished in fifth place (out of 12,500) in the 2011 competition to be the new voice of the Aflac duck.

Kaplan has appeared on Today, the CBS Evening News, NPR, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, Charlie Rose, and other national media.

Kaplan is a graduate of Cornell and the New York University School of Law (where he won three schoolwide advocacy competitions). During the 1994-’95 academic year, he was a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford. He lives with his wife Audrey Feinberg and two sons in Irvington, New York.

Speech topics

Rulers in Robes: Inside the Secret World of the Justices

The Marble Temple in D.C. is the most secret institution in government. It doesn’t televise its proceedings. Cameras aren’t allowed inside. Justices rarely speak to the press. What are these nine, enrobed rulers like? Why do Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Gorsuch not get along? What’s with Ruth Bader’s Ginsburg’s celebrity, Clarence Thomas’s anger, Samuel Alito’s dog, Elena Kagan’s work habits, and the Breyer Burrito? And is there really a full basketball court right atop the great courtroom? (Yes.) David A. Kaplan, the former legal affairs editor of Newsweek, takes us inside the secret world of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court in the Age of Trump

President Trump has reshaped the Supreme Court—and potentially the country for a generation. David A. Kaplan, a leading commentator on the Court, asks: Who are the new justices; how do they fit in to the current Court; and what’s the future of reproductive rights, guns rights, voting rights, campaign finance and the source of federal power itself? Based on rare interviews with the justices themselves, Kaplan offers an incisive behind-the-scenes account of the Supreme Court.

Judicial History 101: Has the Supreme Court Become Too Powerful?

The Supreme Court holds vast sway over social and political policies. Has it always been that way? Is that really the kind of system we want – or what we signed up for two centuries ago? Astonishingly, few liberals or conservatives challenge the dominion over their lives by nine unaccountable, unelected judges who serve for life. David A. Kaplan, whose book The Most Dangerous Branch achieved widespread media attention when it came out, steps back from current controversies to provide a reflective, nuanced, even entertaining look at the history of the Court — never more important as another presidential campaign approaches.

Panel Moderation

Kaplan has also moderated panels at conventions, law schools and judicial conferences.


The Genius of Women: From Overlooked to Changing the World

David A. Kaplan, the former legal affairs editor of Newsweek, shows how the justices subvert the role of the other branches of government—and how we’ve come to accept it at our peril.

The Accidental President: How 413 Lawyers, 9 Supreme Court Justices, and 5,963,110 Floridians (Give or Take a Few) Landed George W. Bush in the White House

For thirty-seven days after the disputed presidential election of 2000, we watched great theater, as George W Bush and Al Gore slugged it out in the swamp.

Mine's Bigger: The Extraordinary Tale of the World's Greatest Sailboat and the Silicon Valley Tycoon Who Built It

A biography of the largest sailboat in the world that won the Loeb Award for Best Business Book of 2008.

The Silicon Boys: And Their Valley of Dreams

In "the best book to date on the subject" (San Francisco Chronicle), prize-winning journalist David A. Kaplan brings to life the culture and history of Silicon Valley.

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