Oliver J. Dunford

Attorney

Sacramento

Oliver Dunford joined PLF’s National Headquarters in Sacramento 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, property rights, and the First Amendment.

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 bar of Ohio and several federal courts. He is not admitted to practice in California.

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

Oliver Dunford joined PLF’s National Headquarters in Sacramento 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, property rights, and the First Amendment.

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 bar of Ohio and several federal courts. He is not admitted to practice in California.

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

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Personal Liberties

Robinson v. Wentzell

Required by state law, race-based quotas at Hartford, Connecticut, magnet schools deny Black and Hispanic students’ civil rights and chances for high-quality education.

Representing seven families, PLF sued to ensure that Black and Hispanic students have the same educational opportunities as all children in Connecticut. The City of Hartford runs a number of world-class magnet schools. These schools are so successful that demand outstrips the schools’ capacity, and a lottery is used to decide who can attend. But because state law imposes racial quotas on these schools—enrollment must be at least 25% white or Asian—Black and Hispanic students are denied admission if their enrollment at a school would raise minority enrollment above 75%—even if it means seats remain empty.

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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.

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Property Rights

Bears Ears National Monument Litigation

Defending public lands access for all

In December 2016, under cover of the Antiquities Act, President Obama unilaterally created the 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument. One year later, President Trump slashed the size of the monument by 85 percent—to around 200,000 acres, freeing up more than one million acres for public use. Outerwear retailer Patagonia, environmental groups, and others sued the federal government, saying the President’s decision was illegal. On behalf of recreationists, ranchers, sportsmen and conservation organizations, and Utah state representative Michael Noel, Pacific Legal Foundation is defending the monument’s reduction to ensure that public lands remain accessible to everyone.

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By Oliver J. Dunford

PLF files another—and hopefully the last—brief against a challenge to the Congressional Review Act

PLF filed a Reply brief in support of its Renewed Motion to Dismiss Center for Biological Diversity v. Zinke, a case that challenges Congress’ use of the Congressional Review Act to overturn a Department of Interior regulation (Refuges Rule) that had severely restricted certain types of hunting in Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges.

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By Oliver J. Dunford

“Chevron deference” belongs in the “Not My Job!” Department

The United States government is, of course, divided into three branches: the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial The legislature writes the law, the executive administers and enforces the law, and the judiciary settles disputes about the application and meaning of the law In the beginning, therefore, Chief Justice John Marshall, on behalf of a unanimous Supreme Court, stated the obvious: “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is

But over the last 100 years or so, the judicial department has voluntarily ceded this “duty” to the executive branch Under the Supreme Court’s Chevron deference, when the meaning of a

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By Oliver J. Dunford

Still fighting to keep public lands open to all

Yesterday, we filed our reply brief in Granat v USDA, where we ask the court to review the US Forest Service’s decision to close thousands of previously available roads and trails to motorized travel in Plumas National Forest Federal law requires the Forest Service, before deciding about road-closings in national forests, to consider meaningful alternatives and to coordinate with local governments As we explained in our opening brief, however, the Service’s “alternative” analysis failed to consider more than 700 of the then-existing 1,100 miles of roads and trails in Plumas Further, the Service’s idea of “coordination” with our clients Plumas and Butte Counties was—as the Service itself acknowledged—nothing more than

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By Oliver J. Dunford

The Framers’ fear of concentrated power was well-founded

In 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Raymond Lucia and his former investment company with violating federal securities laws and regulations You’d think that Mr Lucia would be entitled to defend himself in a court of law You’d be wrong Congress allows the SEC (and other administrative agencies) to bring “administrative enforcement actions,” which are overseen by Administrative Law Judges (ALJs)—employees of the SEC Here, an ALJ agreed with his employer that Lucia had violated securities laws and regulations The ALJ permanently barred Mr Lucia from working as an investment adviser, revoked his company’s registration, and ordered $300,000 in “civil” penalties

As Mr Lucia’s dilemma shows, the modern Administrative

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By Oliver J. Dunford

PLF files appeal to guarantee public access to public forest

Today in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, we filed our Opening Brief in Granat v USDA, where we challenge the United States Forest Service’s order closing thousands of previously available roads and trails to motorized travel in Plumas National Forest PLF represents individuals, recreational organizations, and local governments negatively impacted by the Forest Service’s decision to ban citizens from lawfully enjoying the natural beauty and recreational opportunities that had been permitted for generations For example, our client Amy Granat, because of a disability, can access her favorite spots only by motor vehicle The Service’s order therefore effectively bans Amy from what is after all a public forest

Aside from

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By Oliver J. Dunford

Pacific Legal Foundation Intervenes in Lawsuit Challenging Use of the Congressional Review Act

As every school-child knows, the US Government is divided into three branches: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Article I of the Constitution vests “[a]ll legislative Powers [t]herein granted” in Congress And while Congress has delegated rule-making or quasi-lawmaking authority to executive agencies,* Congress ultimately retains all legislative power Therefore, any power delegated to the executive by Congress can later be restricted or withdrawn

Not so, according to a new lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, which makes the extraordinary claim that a duly enacted law invalidating an executive-agency rule amounts to Congressional invasion of executive-branch authority In other words,

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