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.

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.

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Personal Liberties

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’t tread on me.” State law bans voters from wearing any “political” apparel at a polling place. This includes any t-shirt, button, or other items that could be construed as political, or even organizations that take political positions such as the AFL-CIO or NRA. A poll worker not only prevented Andy from voting for five hours, but also took down his name for possible prosecution.

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Procedural Guarantees

Granat v. U.S. Department of Agriculture

Fighting to keep public lands open to all

Using the pretext of a transportation plan update, the U.S. Forest Service shut down thousands of previously accessible roads and trails – nearly 700 miles’ worth – within the Plumas National Forest. By forbidding any motor vehicle access, the policy prevents Amy Granat, who cannot walk unaided, from using a motorized vehicle to access vast areas of the forest. Granat and other recreational users of the forest are challenging the Service’s cavalier decision to withhold national forest land from members of the public without justification. The Service failed to comply with federal environmental laws that require a searching investigation of the impacts of barring access.

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Procedural Guarantees

Center for Biological Diversity v. Zinke

Victory! Federal Court dismisses challenge to Congressional Review Act

PLF scored another victory against bureaucratic overreach on May 9, when the federal court in Alaska dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Congressional Review Act (CRA). At issue in this lawsuit was a regulation known as the Refuges Rule, which greatly restricted access to and use of land within Alaskan Wildlife Refuges. Congress used the CRA to invalidate the rule—a move promptly challenged in court by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). Representing coalition of individual Alaskans and related organizations, PLF successfully intervened to support the CRA’s constitutionality.

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Post

By Oliver J. Dunford

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 Commissioner In Freytag, the Court held that special trial judges within the US Tax Court were officers because those judges exercised “significant authority”–they took testimony, conducted trials, ruled on the admissibility of evidence, and had the power to enforce compliance with discovery orders In Lucia, the SEC’s ALJ exercised similar powers in an administrative hearing brought

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Op-Ed

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 … ›

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Post

By Oliver J. Dunford

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 … ›

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Post

By Oliver J. Dunford

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 … ›

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Post

By Oliver J. Dunford

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 … ›

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Post

By Oliver J. Dunford

Make government accountable again

How can “We the People” hold government officials accountable? That’s one of the big questions that the Supreme Court will consider when it addresses a rather technical constitutional question—whether administrative … ›

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