FacultyFaculty/Author Profile
Paul J. Beard

Paul J. Beard

Pacific Legal Foundation

Sacramento, CA, USA

Paul Beard is a Principal Attorney in PLF’s Property Rights Group. As head of PLF’s Coastal Land Rights Project, he oversees litigation against coastal land-use agencies that violate landowners’ private property rights, especially the California Coastal Commission. His cases on behalf of property owners include challenges to unconstitutional conditions on land-use permits and the unlawful assertion of jurisdiction by land-use agencies over private property and its development.
In 2013, he argued and won a landmark property rights case before the United States Supreme Court: Koontz v. St Johns River Water Management District. Koontz is PLF’s seventh consecutive win before the High Court. The case establishes that land-use permit exactions – including monetary exactions and those exactions leading to permit denial – are subject to heightened scrutiny under the United States Constitution: Local, state, and federal agencies now bear the heavy burden of demonstrating that all such monetary exactions bear a sufficient connection to the alleged public harms resulting from owners’ use of their properties.
Mr. Beard practices in other areas of constitutional law as well, including free speech, equal protection, environmental, and Commerce Clause law. For example, he currently is the lead attorney in PLF’s lawsuit, on behalf of Iowan artist Matt Sissel, challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare under the Commerce and Origination Clauses. See also Harman v. City and County of San Francisco, 136 Cal. App. 4th 1279 (2006) (expanding municipal liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for discriminatory policies of government officials); Smith v. Novato Unified School District, 150 Cal. App. 4th 1439 (2007) (interpreting California law to grant public school students substantially the same speech rights as adults off campus).
Beyond his litigation duties, Mr. Beard also serves as a liaison to PLF’s Atlantic and Hawaii Centers, overseeing those offices’ administrative and litigation activities.

He has spoken and debated on his cases and constitutional issues in general in numerous venues, and has published in newspapers, trade journals, and law journals. See, e.g., Paul J. Beard II, The Legacy of Grutter: How the Meredith and PICS Courts Wrongly Extended the “Educational Benefits” Exception to the Equal Protection Clause in Public Higher Education, 11 Tex. Rev. L. & Pol. 1 (2006); Paul J. Beard II & Robert Luther III, A Superintendent's Guide to Student Free Speech in California Public Schools, 12 U.C. Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy 381 (2008).

Mr. Beard is admitted to the bars of California, numerous federal district and appellate courts, and the United States Supreme Court. He received a B.A. from UCLA, and a J.D. from Cornell Law School.

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