Federal Takings

Arent Fox's Eminent Domain & Property Rights Practice

Federal Takings

Stephen S. Davis

Stephen Davis, Associate at Arent Fox LLP
Stephen S. Davis
Attorney
Washington, DC
314.296.4009

Steve Davis is an attorney in Arent Fox’s Complex Litigation practice.

Client Work

Steve focuses on rails-to-trails cases seeking compensation for landowners under the Fifth Amendment. He also focuses on appeals of those and other cases, concentrating on appellate litigation in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court.

Steve also specializes in election litigation, representing high-profile political campaigns and organizations in matters that include redistricting, ballot access challenges, recounts, and post-election challenges.  Steve is a highly sought-after teacher and presenter on election law issues.

Previous Work

Prior to joining Arent Fox, Steve served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, where he litigated federal civil rights, Federal Tort Claims Act, employment discrimination, and immigration claims in federal, state, and appellate courts as well as assisting in criminal prosecutions. Steve’s successful defense of complex civil claims against the federal government saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

After leaving the Department of Justice, Steve served as the Missouri Election Day Operations Director for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, where he oversaw all election law-related issues in the state.

Earlier in Steve’s career, he served as the 62nd Chief Clerk and Administrator of the Missouri House of Representatives, where he directed all legislative action, performed constitutional duties, and managed all agency staff and operations. Steve also clerked for Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and for the US Senate Judiciary Committee.

Litigation Highlights

US Supreme Court

  • Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, No. 14-232 (2015), co-counsel for petitioners, Arizona voters challenging the Arizona state legislative redistricting plan as unconstitutional for violating the fundamental “one person, one vote” principle of the Equal Protection Clause.
  • Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley (No. ), co-counsel for amicus curiae National Association of Evangelicals filing an amicus brief in support of the church in a challenge to Missouri’s prohibition on public aid to religious schools (Missouri’s Blaine Amendment).
  • Brandt v. United States, No. 12-1173 (2014), co-counsel for amicus curiae Cato Institute, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Land Title Association, Public Lands Council, American Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and law professors Richard Epstein, James Ely, Donald Kochan, and Dale Whitman: The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Brandt family and issued a landmark decision protecting property owners’ rights as urged by the amici.

US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

  • Kloeckner v. Solis, 639 F.3d 834 (8th Cir. 2011), (successful defense of US government on appeal in “mixed” CSRA/employment discrimination claims resulting in clear, favorable 8th Circuit precedent), petition for cert. granted, US Supreme Court opinion at 133 S. Ct. 596 (2012)
  • Harlston v. Office of Personnel Management, 417 Fed. Appx. 596 (8th Cir. 2011) (successful defense against improper claim for federal civil service retirement benefits)
  • Cano v. Geithner, 354 Fed. Appx. 283 (8th Cir. 2009) (successful appeal affirming district court’s order denying federal employees reverse discrimination claim)

US District Court

  • Lee, et al. v. Virginia State Board of Elections, et al. (No. 3:15CV357, E.D. Va.), co-counsel for the Commonwealth of Virginia defending the state’s voter photo-identification statute from challenge under the Voting Rights Act.  After a two-week trial, the court ruled for Virginia on all counts.

Missouri Supreme Court

  • Shoemyer v. Kander (No. SC94516), co-counsel for a consortium of Missouri agricultural groups defending the adoption of a state constitutional amendment by initiative petition.

Professional Activities

Steve serves as an adjunct law professor at Saint Louis University teaching election law.  He also serves on the Missouri Capitol Commission and is past-chairman of the Missouri Bar Advisory Committee on Civic Education. He was the founding chairman of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society St. Louis Chapter and continues to serve on its board.

Publications

  • “The Federal Chevron Doctrine: Once and Future Law in Missouri?” Missouri Bar Journal (May–June 1999)
  • “Unconstitutionality of the Legislative Veto in Missouri: Mo. Coalition for the Environment v. Joint Comm. on Admin. Rules,” 5 Mo. Environmental Law & Policy Rev. 93 (Fall 1997)

Recognitions

Steve has been recognized for his service in the US Attorney’s Office with its Distinguished Service Award and is a 2009 recipient of the St. Louis Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40 Award.” In 2016, he was named a Solomon Civic Virtue Awardee by the Missouri Bar for his outstanding contributions to civic education.

He is an alumnus of the Leadership St. Louis program, a highly selective program that brings together a diverse group of leaders who demonstrate a deep commitment to improving the St. Louis region through experiential learning and community immersion.

 

 

Blog Posts by Stephen S. Davis

US Courts of Appeal, Press Release, Michigan
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Brott v. United States, No. 17-712 (U.S. Supreme Court), 858 F.3d 425 (6th Cir. 2017)

UPDATE: The Supreme Court has ordered (requested) the Solicitor General to file a response to our petition.

Question presented: May the federal government take an owner’s property in violation of the Fifth Amendment and deny the owner the ability to vindicate his right to be justly compensated in an Article III Court with right to jury trial as provided in the Seventh Amendment?

Eighteen amici curiae parties have filed five amicus briefs in support of the landowner-plaintiffs’ petition for certiorari in Brott v. United States. The Tucker Act requires all Fifth Amendment taking claims against the federal government that exceed $10,000 to be brought in the US Court of Federal Claims (CFC). The CFC is an Article I tribunal, not an Article III court, and the judges serving on the CFC do not enjoy the protections afforded Article III judges. Decisions of the CFC are subject to appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

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Current Cases, Michigan
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Michigan Landowners Petition Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for Rehearing on Critical Constitutional Question

In Brott v. United States, a group of Michigan landowners are courageously demanding their right to a jury trial and right to be heard in a judicial court (instead of a legislative court without a jury) in their lawsuit seeking compensation for the federal government’s taking of their land.

The federal government continues to argue that these families and small businesses are not entitled to a jury trial and that they must bring their takings claims in a legislative court, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, under a federal law called the Tucker Act.  A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the government in a decision available here.  In order to protect their claims, the landowners also filed them in a different lawsuit in the Court of Federal Claims.

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Missouri
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US Supreme Court Rules for Missouri Church in Civil Liberties Case

On June 26, the US Supreme Court sided with a Missouri church in a closely watched First Amendment case, ruling that a church cannot be excluded as the recipient of a government program simply because it is a religious organization. The decision can be found here.

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