Oliver J. Dunford

Attorney Florida

Oliver Dunford joined PLF in March 2017. He litigates across the country to defend and advance individual liberty and the rule of law. Oliver’s cases involve the separation of powers, economic liberty, and property rights.

Oliver remains inspired by the classical liberal ideals upon which our Founders declared independence and secured the blessings of liberty. The Constitution’s promises, however, are not self-executing. As James Madison explained, “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Oliver feels lucky that his work helps oblige the government to control itself—to the end that all individuals may pursue their rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Before joining PLF, Oliver clerked at the Ohio Supreme Court and the Ohio Court of Appeals, and spent more than a decade in private practice working on complex commercial litigation. Originally from Cleveland, Oliver is a graduate of the University of Dayton and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, where he was a managing editor for the Cleveland State Law Review. Oliver is admitted to the state bars of Florida, California, and Ohio, as well as several federal courts including the United States Supreme Court.

Oliver spends all of his free time following the Cleveland Indians.

Goodwood Brewing Company, LLC v. Beshear

Kentucky restaurants are challenging Gov. Beshear’s never-ending emergency powers

Since the pandemic began a year ago, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has used his emergency powers to unilaterally enact COVID-19-related policies. In February, the legislature overwhelmingly voted to rein in his authority, passing three bills to limit the governor’s use of pandemic-related emergency orders. Gov. Beshear immediately filed suit ...

Shands v. City of Marathon

Government takes family’s land and uses gimmicks to avoid paying for it

The Shands family has owned Shands Key, a small Florida island, since the 1950s. Purchased by World War II surgeon and Mississippi hospital owner Dr. R.E. Shands, the island was originally zoned for residential use and could have been developed with at least seven homes. Today, however, government regulations designed to protect the environment pro ...

Christensen v. California Judicial Council

Fighting for property rights against California Judicial Council’s eviction ban

Eviction is a critical tool for landlords to manage their property by removing tenants who refuse to pay rent or create nuisances and safety hazards. The process allows landlords to remove tenants who deliberately withhold rent or damage property, so that they can aid tenants experiencing hardship and offer housing to good renters—a particularl ...

CTPU Case Connecticut Parents Union v. Cardona

Race-based quotas in Connecticut schools hurt Black and Hispanic students

Each year, world-class magnet schools in Connecticut deny admission to thousands of deserving children while leaving available seats empty—because of skin color. State law requires magnet schools’ enrollment to be at least 25 percent white or Asian. This means Black and Hispanic students are turned away if their admission would push minorit ...

Ostrewich v. Trautman

Your shirt or your vote: Fighting to protect free speech at the ballot box

When Jillian Ostrewich entered her Houston, Texas, polling place in 2018, she expected the only decisions she’d face would be on the ballot. Instead, an election judge gave her an ultimatum: turn her shirt inside out or forfeit her vote. Jillian has asked a federal judge to overturn Texas’ election apparel law because the First Amendmen ...

Fighting Racial Discrimination Christa McAuliffe PTO v. de Blasio

Stopping New York’s attempt to discriminate against Asian-American students

Feeling that New York City’s eight specialized high schools contain too many Asian students, Mayor Bill de Blasio is changing an admissions program to limit the ability of students to get into predominately Asian-American schools. However, his so-called racial balancing effort will squeeze out Asian students—nearly three-quarters of whom co ...

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August 30, 2021

The Hill: Gavin Newsom thought he could override the Constitution — now he faces a recall

On Sept. 14, California voters head to the polls to decide Gov. Gavin Newsom's fate in a historic recall election. Perhaps the biggest motivating factor behind the recall effort is Newsom's aggressive COVID-19 pandemic response, in which he unilaterally issued orders for school, business and church closures; mask mandates; and other demands he judg ...

August 09, 2021

The Hill: The ‘new’ FTC will run roughshod over the rule of law

Lina Khan, the new chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), generated a lot of attention after leading the agency's five commissioners — on 3-2 partisan lines — to adopt a series of proposals that concentrate power in the chair herself, streamline and centralize agency rulemaking, and authorize sweeping investigations and enforcement a ...

June 07, 2021

The Hill: Can Kentucky’s governor ignore the law?

On June 10, the Kentucky Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a pair of cases addressing whether Gov. Andy Beshear can ignore the laws of the commonwealth. These cases will be watched by other states considering reforms to emergency powers. In litigation last year, Gov. Beshear correctly argued that Kentucky's emergency-powers laws "defined the ...

March 03, 2021

Jurist: Accountability in the administrative state: the role of SCOTUS

The modern Administrative State "wields vast power and touches almost every aspect of daily life." Ensuring accountability for the officials who exercise this vast power is no simple task. But the Supreme Court has the opportunity to improve what Madison called the "chain of dependence"—so that "those who are employed in the execution of the ...

February 10, 2021

San Francisco Chronicle: San Francisco cannot foist pandemic’s economic burden onto landlords

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments across the country have tried to limit the economic damage caused by the unprecedented lockdowns. That is certainly a worthy goal. But far too often, rather than providing assistance across the board — which might require unpopular tax hikes on everyone — governments stick only some people with ...

February 08, 2021

The Hill: FDA’s distillery fiasco illustrates why arbitrary regulation is a problem

"No good deed goes unpunished," as the old saying goes. Distillery owners, who acted quickly last year to relieve the national shortage of hand sanitizer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, learned that lesson the hard way. As COVID-19 lockdowns accelerated and supplies of paper towels, sanitizer and other key products dwindled, some American ent ...

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