Todd F. Gaziano

Executive Director, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Law, D.C. Center

D.C.

Todd Gaziano joined PLF in 2014 as Executive Director of its DC Center and Senior Fellow in Constitutional Law. Todd has served in all three branches of the federal government, worked in the private sector, and is a well-known scholar and leader in the liberty legal movement.

Todd attended the University of Chicago Law School, where he was a John M. Olin Fellow in Law and Economics. His public law work includes service as a law clerk for U.S. Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones, in the U.S. DOJ Office of Legal Counsel, as a chief subcommittee counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives, and as the founding director of The Heritage Foundation’s Legal Center. He also had a six-year term as commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, where he reported on civil rights developments and conducted oversight and investigations of civil rights agencies. Early in his career, he was as a litigator in Houston, and more recently, was the Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of an innovative healthcare delivery and IT company.

Todd is a frequent legal commentator in print, on radio and TV, before congressional committees, and in other public settings. With more than 20 years in the liberty movement, Todd continues to publish scholarly papers and op-eds on constitutional and legal reform topics. He has a special interest in the constitutional limits of government, especially federalism and the separation of powers, and protections for individual rights. Several of his scholarly articles have influenced landmark Supreme Court litigation, congressional policy, and presidential actions. He also has worked to increase the effectiveness of many organizations within the freedom-based public interest legal movement.

Todd and his wife, also a practicing attorney, reside in Northern Virginia and are proud of their liberty-minded daughter, who is studying at the Antonin Scalia Law School to continue the family trade.

Todd Gaziano joined PLF in 2014 as Executive Director of its DC Center and Senior Fellow in Constitutional Law. Todd has served in all three branches of the federal government, worked in the private sector, and is a well-known scholar and leader in the liberty legal movement.

Todd attended the University of Chicago Law School, where he was a John M. Olin Fellow in Law and Economics. His public law work includes service as a law clerk for U.S. Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones, in the U.S. DOJ Office of Legal Counsel, as a chief subcommittee counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives, and as the founding director of The Heritage Foundation’s Legal Center. He also had a six-year term as commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, where he reported on civil rights developments and conducted oversight and investigations of civil rights agencies. Early in his career, he was as a litigator in Houston, and more recently, was the Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of an innovative healthcare delivery and IT company.

Todd is a frequent legal commentator in print, on radio and TV, before congressional committees, and in other public settings. With more than 20 years in the liberty movement, Todd continues to publish scholarly papers and op-eds on constitutional and legal reform topics. He has a special interest in the constitutional limits of government, especially federalism and the separation of powers, and protections for individual rights. Several of his scholarly articles have influenced landmark Supreme Court litigation, congressional policy, and presidential actions. He also has worked to increase the effectiveness of many organizations within the freedom-based public interest legal movement.

Todd and his wife, also a practicing attorney, reside in Northern Virginia and are proud of their liberty-minded daughter, who is studying at the Antonin Scalia Law School to continue the family trade.

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Procedural Guarantees

People v. Rinehart

Golden State no more? California bans gold prospecting

California’s original Forty-Niners made their fortunes in gold with shovels and pans. Modern-day prospectors use a “suction dredge” – a specialized vacuum – to suck up sediment from streams, extract the gold, and then return the sediment to the stream. Federal law not only permits but encourages suction dredge mining, even on federal lands, while states retain the right to require permits and regulate environmental impacts. Unsatisfied with this balanced approach, California banned suction-dredge mining entirely. Brandon Rinehart, who profitably mined his Nugget Alley claim in the Plumas National Forest for years, was convicted of violating the ban over his defense that the ban is preempted by the federal Mining Act of 1872.

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Procedural Guarantees

Center for Biological Diversity v. Zinke

Congress’s power exceeds administrative agencies

The Center for Biological Diversity, a group that favors expansive government control over the environment, sued Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke when Congress voted, pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, to rescind an Alaska wildlife refuge rule related to predator control. CBD argues that the CRA is an unconstitutional abridgment of executive power, and that regulations cannot be rescinded by Congress unless it also rewrites the underlying legislation. Representing itself as well as a coalition of individual Alaskans and related organizations, PLF seeks to intervene in support of the rule’s rescission and the constitutionality of the Congressional Review Act.

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Op-Ed

Kill Regulations to Save the Sage Grouse

Conventional wisdom holds that state and federal environmental regulation is better than either alone But even with the best of intentions, federal, one-size-fits-all regulation that interferes with more-effective state and private wildlife conservation efforts can cause real harm That’s true for the greater sage grouse, a chicken-size bird that is found on 172 million acres in eleven western states Federal sage-grouse plans issued in 2015 both hurt the sage grouse and threaten thousands of productive jobs tied to almost 73 million acres of federal land in the West Killing those federal rules will help the grouse

For an on-the-ground view of these issues, consider the case of Jack Farris,

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Op-Ed

It’s magical legal thinking to say Trump can’t reverse Obama’s national monuments

Suppose President Trump declared much of California, Nevada and Oregon — states that just happened to vote against him — off-limits to economic development and recreational use Suppose he barred all mining, grazing, agriculture and even camping from these states’ federal lands (roughly 46% of California, 85% of Nevada and 53% of Oregon) under a law to preserve national monuments of scientific and historical interest

According to some environmentalists and legal scholars, we would have to live with this result They believe a president can permanently designate federal land as a monument and restrict its uses — even if we’re talking about millions of acres (138 million acres

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Op-Ed

Three Cheers for the Congressional Review Act

After more than 20 years of dormancy, Congress finally started to use the Congressional Review Act as intended this year — to seriously oversee the federal bureaucracy So far, this Congress and President Trump have used the CRA to pass 14 laws disapproving regulations issued at the end of the Obama administration, and many more rules remain vulnerable because they were not previously sent to Congress, as the CRA mandates Fans of the regulatory bureaucracy are not pleased; some are seemingly apoplectic

The CRA requires agencies to submit all rules to Congress for review before they may go into effect Congress then has 60 legislative days from the later of

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Post

By Todd F. Gaziano

The time to review and kill hundreds of rules under the CRA has not yet begun

The first part of a recent article in The Hill began like many others, suggesting that the window was “closing for Congress to roll back Obama-era regulations” under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) It focused on the approaching deadline for Congress to vote on CRA joint resolutions of disapproval that were introduced to kill Obama’s worst “midnight” regulations In the first three months of the new administration, Congress and President Trump have killed 13 misguided, burdensome, and job-killing regulations that were sent to Congress near the end of Obama’s tenure

Humorously, those who never met a regulation they didn’t love are conflicted in their criticism of these 13 laws

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Post

By Todd F. Gaziano

Are all of Obama’s national monuments permanent? A new AEI paper says no

President Obama broke the record for the number of national monument proclamations he issued and the millions of acres of public lands he locked up for such monuments. A few … ›

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Op-Ed

Ending Clean Air Act Abuse Will Spur Economic Growth

Of all the job-killing and growth-inhibiting regulations issued by the last administration, those purportedly authorized by the Clean Air Act probably had the highest costs and the smallest benefits to human health or the environment

In June of 2015, the Supreme Court struck down one power plant emissions rule for not taking its enormous costs into account, which the EPA admitted it did not do With regulatory costs that were about 2,000 times the estimated benefits, the court held that it was not “even rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs (the EPA’s own estimate was $96 billion) in return for a few dollars in

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