Daniel M. Ortner

Attorney Sacramento

Daniel M. Ortner joined Pacific Legal Foundation as an attorney in 2018, focusing on free speech, equality under the law, and curtailing overreach of the administrative state. 

Daniel graduated summa cum laude and first in his class from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. He came to PLF after two appellate clerkships on the Utah Supreme Court and the Third Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. He’s grateful to have been mentored by incredible jurists with a passion for originalism and for bringing empirical tools such as corpus linguistics to bear on statutory interpretation.  

Daniel is the author of a recent 50-state survey on the topic of deference toward administrative agencies at the state level. He has also published extensively on First Amendment topics, including freedom of speech, freedom of association, and free exercise of religion. 

Daniel was born in Israel and moved to the United States at a young age. He is grateful for the incredible blessings of liberty that he has enjoyed in the United States and particularly for the freedoms to think, speak, worship, and associate that are guaranteed by the Constitution. He loves to fight on behalf of individuals who are being denied these rights, to ensure that these precious liberties remain protected and secure. He is currently licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of California, as well as the United States Supreme Court bar and the bars of the First, Third, Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits. 

Outside of work, Daniel spends time with his wife and three beautiful daughters. He loves to play board games, watch movies, and serve in his local church congregation. 

Tiegs v. Vilsack

Race-based COVID-19 farm loan forgiveness denies equal treatment to farmers and ranchers across the country

When the pandemic struck, much of the U.S. agriculture industry felt the financial crunch. Julie Owen, James Tiegs, Abraham and Cally Jergenson, and Chad Ward were initially encouraged when Congress passed a COVID-19 relief law that included a farm loan forgiveness provision for economic hardship. But they each discovered that they are ineligible f ...

Dunlap v. Vilsack

Race-based COVID-19 farm loan forgiveness denies equal treatment to Oregon farmer

Katie and James Dunlap are farmers in Oregon who both work two jobs in addition to raising their toddler. The couple rent land from his parents where they raise cattle and hay—an endeavor that required two farm loans to buy cattle and equipment. Like many other farmers, the Dunlaps were negatively affected by COVID and were relieved when they hea ...

Wynn v. Vilsack

Race-based COVID-19 farm loan forgiveness denies equal treatment to farmers

Scott Wynn is a lifelong farmer who has run Wynn Farms in Jennings, Florida, producing sweet potatoes, corn, and cattle since 2006. COVID-19, however, hit the family’s finances hard. Steep drops in beef prices and too little help and supplies to grow sweet potatoes meant less income, nearly all of which went toward federal farm loan repayment ...

The Clementine Co. v. Cuomo

Gov. Cuomo’s unequal capacity limits silence New York theaters, comedy clubs

New York City actress and theater manager Catherine Russell began her starring role in Perfect Crime in 1987. Over that time, she missed only four days—to attend family weddings—a record-setting run of more than 12,000 performances that lasted until March 2020 when the pandemic was declared. At that point, Catherine implemented extensive COVID ...

Kissel v. Seagull

Fighting unconstitutional burdens on free speech in fundraising

Adam Kissel looked forward to lending his longtime experience in the liberty movement and higher education to help raise money for the nonprofit Jack Miller Center’s civic education program. But he soon discovered several states have overly burdensome registration and reporting requirements for paid solicitors. Connecticut, in particular, req ...

Ghost Golf, Inc., et al. v. Newsom

Small businesses fight Gov. Newsom’s unlawful color-code shutdown scheme

At Ghost Golf in Fresno, the weeks leading up to Halloween mark the peak season for the haunted house-themed miniature golf center, earning enough money for owner Daryn Coleman and his family to weather the springtime slowdown. This year, however, Ghost Golf has been closed since March, haunted by Governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID-related busines ...

Latest Posts

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July 21, 2021

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s gun violence emergency order shows why unchecked executive powers are so dangerous

During the COVID-19 pandemic, governors across the country claimed extraordinary emergency power. For weeks and then for months and then for over a year, they used this purported authority to unilaterally shut down businesses, enact health and safety measures, and issue sweeping emergency orders. Such broad emergency power may have made sense in th ...

May 13, 2021

New York Daily News: Live theaters, hung out to dry

From million-dollar productions on the Great White Way to shoe-string experimental off-Broadway shows, live theater and performance is the lifeblood of New York City. And yet, for more than a year, productions throughout New York City have been shuttered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, restaurants and bars with live music, bowling al ...

April 07, 2021

The Hill: The Biden administration should join the fight against overcriminalization

Four years ago, no one would have believed that the administration of former President Trump would have been defined, in part, by major criminal justice reforms. The bipartisan First Step Act rightfully made plenty of headlines and received praise from across the political spectrum. But one executive order in the final days did not garner ...

February 22, 2021

The government can’t prevent you from fundraising for nonprofits

When Adam Kissel, a longtime advocate for civic education, agreed to give the Jack Miller Center for Teaching America's Founding Principles and History (JMC) a helping hand with fundraising, he assumed he would simply be communicating with potential donors who might be open to supporting the organization's mission. Instead, Kissel found himself on ...

December 30, 2020

Our freedom of speech doesn’t depend on what you’re speaking about

The right to protest government is one of the oldest and most revered American traditions. From the Boston Tea Party to the Civil Rights movement to the modern-day Tea Party and Black Lives Matter movements, Americans of all political beliefs and backgrounds have always turned out to protest for justice and liberty. As the Supreme ...

December 16, 2020

It should be game over for Nevada’s shutdown policies

In recent years, businesses that combine the fun of playing games with drinks and the atmosphere of a bar or tavern have become extremely popular. From e-sports lounges to arcades and board game shops, these locations have become destinations for adults to socialize and enjoy a fun night out. Individuals come to these businesses primarily ...

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