Oliver J. Dunford

Attorney Sacramento

Oliver Dunford joined PLF’s office 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 bars of 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.

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 ...

Robinson v. Wentzell; Connecticut Parents Union v. Wentzell

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

Connecticut runs a number of world-class magnet schools. However, under a state-mandated racial quota, enrollment must be at least 25 percent White or Asian. This means Black and Hispanic students are turned away if their admission would push minority enrollment above 75 percent—even if seats remain empty. A law passed in 2017 expanded these quot ...

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 gettin ...

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 gr ...

Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky

Victory for Free Speech! U.S. Supreme Court ruling protects political self-expression

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a polling-place dress code in Minnesota, upholding free speech rights across the nation and protecting the right of Americans to peacefully express their political views at the polls. PLF represented Minnesota voters, including Andy Cilek, who showed up at his polling place wearing a t-shirt that read “Don& ...

Elderly man in library Book Passage v. Becerra

Saving free speech one book at a time

In the wake of a First Amendment challenge by Bay Area book seller Bill Petrocelli and his renowned store, Book Passage, California has rescinded the state’s onerous “certificate of authenticity” requirement for the sale of autographed books. The regulation would have made it extremely risky, if not impossible, for stores to sell ...

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July 10, 2018

Future-Justice Kavanaugh agrees with PLF—sort of

Yesterday, President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the United States Supreme Court. As Professor Jonathan Adler notes, Judge Kavanaugh's opinions on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (where he currently sits) have influenced the Supreme Court in a number of cases. Indeed, the high Court has more than a few times ...

June 22, 2018

Supreme Court gets it right but doesn’t go far enough

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission and held that administrative-law judges (ALJs) in the SEC are “officers of the United States” under the Appointments Clause. The ruling isn’t all that surprising, as the Court simply applied its holding from a 1991 case, Freytag v. Commi ...

June 11, 2018

Diversity quotas: New name, same discrimination

Originally published in the New Haven Register June 10, 2018. In 1967, the Supreme Court struck down a Virginia law banning interracial marriages, on the grounds that the ban violated the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. The law prohibited state officials from issuing marriage licenses until the government determined the applicants had prope ...

May 21, 2018

PLF continues fighting for small vape shops against regulatory overkill

In response to three lawsuits PLF filed to vindicate the constitutional rights of small vape-shop owners across the country who are threatened by FDA's unconstitutional regulation of their livelihoods, the federal government's first tactic is an attempt to transfer cases filed in Minnesota and Texas to its "home court" in Washington, D.C., where th ...

May 10, 2018

Federal Court in Alaska agrees with PLF and dismisses challenge to the Congressional Review Act

PLF scored another victory against bureaucratic overreach yesterday, when the federal court in Alaska dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Congressional Review Act. This dismissal is PLF's latest success in its campaign to promote and defend the CRA. At issue in this lawsuit was a regulation adopted during the Obama adminis ...

March 22, 2018

Can the government ignore its obligation to consider the costs of its regulations?

Defenders of government regulation often insist that regulations exist to protect us, to keep our foods and drugs safe, or to ensure good stewardship of the environment. Of course, intentions don't equal results, and government regulation doesn't always work out as planned. (Often, government itself causes more harm than good.) Regardless, we are a ...