Damien M. Schiff

Senior Attorney

Sacramento

Currently a Senior Attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, Damien joined PLF in 2005.  His practice has focused on federal and state environmental and land-use issues.  Damien was counsel of record in Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a groundbreaking decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of landowners to challenge Clean Water Act compliance orders issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition to the Clean Water Act, Damien’s practice includes direct litigation and friend-of-the-court briefs in cases arising under the federal and California Endangered Species Acts, as well as other environmental laws.  He has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs, and has been quoted in The Economist, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

Damien obtained his law degree magna cum laude from the University of San Diego School of Law, and his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Georgetown University.  While at USD, Damien was a research assistant for Professor Bernard Siegan, a leading constitutional theorist and advocate for property rights and economic liberty.  Immediately prior to joining PLF, Damien clerked for Judge (and former PLF attorney) Victor Wolski of the United States Court of Federal Claims.  Damien credits the mentoring and examples of Professor Siegan and Judge Wolski for his decision to pursue a career in liberty-based public interest litigation.

Damien lives in Sacramento with his wife, two young sons, and a cat named Lily.  He is a card-carrying member of the American Philatelic Society.

Currently a Senior Attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, Damien joined PLF in 2005.  His practice has focused on federal and state environmental and land-use issues.  Damien was counsel of record in Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a groundbreaking decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of landowners to challenge Clean Water Act compliance orders issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition to the Clean Water Act, Damien’s practice includes direct litigation and friend-of-the-court briefs in cases arising under the federal and California Endangered Species Acts, as well as other environmental laws.  He has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs, and has been quoted in The Economist, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

Damien obtained his law degree magna cum laude from the University of San Diego School of Law, and his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Georgetown University.  While at USD, Damien was a research assistant for Professor Bernard Siegan, a leading constitutional theorist and advocate for property rights and economic liberty.  Immediately prior to joining PLF, Damien clerked for Judge (and former PLF attorney) Victor Wolski of the United States Court of Federal Claims.  Damien credits the mentoring and examples of Professor Siegan and Judge Wolski for his decision to pursue a career in liberty-based public interest litigation.

Damien lives in Sacramento with his wife, two young sons, and a cat named Lily.  He is a card-carrying member of the American Philatelic Society.

Read less
Property Rights

United States v. LaPant

The government must abide by the Clean Water Act too

Jack LaPant is a northern California farmer who followed the rules, and consulted multiple federal agencies before he began plowing his land in 2011. During his inquiries, he was told that the property was an active farm according to Department of Agriculture records, and that he could grow wheat on the farm despite the presence of previously farmed wetlands.

Read more
Personal Liberties

Vaping Litigation

The Constitution going up in vapor

Electronic nicotine delivery systems—vaping devices and e-cigarettes—first hit U.S. stores in 2007. It didn’t take long for vaping to jump from zero to a $5 billion domestic industry, as entrepreneurs quickly recognized a market hungry for an alternative to traditional cigarettes. In 2016, just as the burgeoning vaping industry was getting off the ground, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stepped in with a rule that deems e-cigarettes as tobacco products, and brand new, severe regulations that will only harm the industry and perhaps overall public health—contrary to the agency’s very mission. Using a unique legal theory, Pacific Legal Foundation is suing the FDA in three separate federal courtrooms—at the same time—on behalf of vape store owners and a harm reduction organization in several states who want to promote a more healthy alternative to smoking. The unconstitutional rule burdens these individuals and organizations in unique ways, but all are united in opposition to its continued enforcement. The FDA’s regulations are not only expensive and onerous, and prevent vaping entrepreneurs from fulfilling what they believe is a humanitarian mission of helping people, but the rule was illegal the second it hit the Federal Register.

Read more
Property Rights

Coastal Rights Coalition v. California Coastal Commission

California coastal homeowners at risk by Coastal Commission’s illegal seawall policy

When coastal property owners seek permits for new residential development, the California Coastal Commission requires them to agree never to build a seawall to protect the structure from storms and erosion. This policy was imposed by fiat, without public notice, hearings, and opportunity for public comment, as required by the California Administrative Procedure Act.

Read more
Post

By Damien M. Schiff

Opening brief in gnatcatcher listing challenge

Today, we filed our opening merits brief in our challenge to the federal Endangered Species Act listing of the coastal California gnatcatcher Our lawsuit takes aim at the taxonomic foundation of the listing, namely, whether the gnatcatcher—a diminutive songbird that inhabits very prime real estate in parts of coastal and inland Southern California—constitutes its own “subspecies” How that question is resolved determines whether the gnatcatcher merits listing, because the bird, although not common in Southern California, is plentiful in parts of Baja California, Mexico

We contend that, based on recent genetic research, the gnatcatcher should not be considered its own subspecies The US Fish and Wildlife Service disagrees

Read more
Post

By Damien M. Schiff

PLF supports challenge to Coastal Commission unconstitutional condition

Today, we submitted an amicus brief in the California court of appeal in San Diego Unified Port District v. California Coastal Commission. The case concerns the Port’s attempts to modify its … ›

Read more
Post

By Damien M. Schiff

PLF urges EPA to abandon the “conduit” theory

Today, PLF filed comments in response to an EPA request on whether the agency should abandon its support of the so-called “conduit” theory of Clean Water Act liability. The conduit … ›

Read more
Post

By Damien M. Schiff

Preble’s delisting petition denied

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published its denial of PLF’s petition to delist the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse from the Endangered Species Act. The short finding makes two … ›

Read more
Post

By Damien M. Schiff

Did Justice Scalia support the “continuing violation” theory?

An important tool that the government and environmental groups use to sue landowners for alleged and long-ago discharges of pollution under the Clean Water Act is the so-called “continuing violation” … ›

Read more
Post

By Damien M. Schiff

What is an “existing structure” under the California Coastal Act?

For landowners along California’s coast, maintaining the right to build a seawall or other protective device can mean the difference between preserving one’s home or having it fall into the … ›

Read more