Oliver J. Dunford

Attorney Sacramento

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, 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 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.

Connecticut Parents Union v. Wentzell

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 ...

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

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

Hartford, Connecticut, runs a number of world-class magnet schools. Their success has led to the use of a lottery to decide who can attend. But 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 ...

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& ...

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November 01, 2019

California Lawyer: How the high court may rule in Seila Law — and why

The Supreme Court should prevent further erosion of the lines drawn by the Constitution and strike down the CFPB’s for-cause removal protection at issue. The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear an important separation-of-powers case involving the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Seila Law LLC v. CFPB, 19-7. Congress created the CF ...

October 21, 2019

The Hill: Supreme Court will take on ‘fourth branch’ of bureaucracies

As every schoolchild knows, the federal government is divided into the legislative, executive and judicial branches. This separation of powers was designed to ensure that government does not become oppressive. As James Madison put it, combining these powers into one branch would be "the very definition of tyranny." Unfortunately, the three branches ...

September 25, 2019

The Hill: Supreme Court should further affirm importance of property rights

Dartmond and Esther Cherk owned three acres of residentially-zoned investment property in Marin County, Calif. They wanted to divide the property into two lots, sell one and use the proceeds to build a retirement home on the other. Easy, right? Far from it. After nearly 20 years of back-and-forth with Marin County to determine how ...

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 ...

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