J. Stephen Lewis has represented county and local governments and administrative agencies for more than two decades. During that time, Stephen has played a major role in the advancement of California law related to individual civil rights, the First Amendment, local government finance and the primacy of municipal charters in charter cities. Stephen is recognized as a leading expert in California rent control laws.
Advocate for local governments
Stephen represents and advocates on behalf of a range of municipal entities and government authorities. He has served as amicus counsel for the League of California cities and supported individual cities throughout California.
Skilled in managing the political environment and financial pressures local governments operate under, Stephen advises publicly elected and appointed bodies. His counsel background includes the development of state legislation affecting local government and the drafting of numerous local charter provisions, ordinances and regulations.
Stephen has played a major role in the advancement of California law related to individual civil rights, the First Amendment, local government finance and the primacy of municipal charters in charter cities.
- In In re Marriage Cases, Stephen represented a coalition of counties and municipalities as amicus curiae, writing a brief that is widely credited with convincing the California Supreme Court to conclude that the state’s equal protection clause extends to same-sex couples. The argument was later accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court in its application of the U.S. Constitution.
- In Showing Animals Respect and Kindness v. City of West Hollywood, Stephen successfully argued, in a case of first impression, that laws banning mobile billboards do not violate the First Amendment.
- In Action Apartment Association v. Santa Monica Rent Control Board, Stephen successfully argued that, notwithstanding a state constitutional provision that nearly all local government fees are taxes that must be approved by voters, California state and local government regulatory agencies may still enact and collect appropriate regulatory fees without voter approval.
- In 1041 20th Street v. SMRCB, Stephen established that charter cities are not bound by prior decisions that contravene their cities’ charters, which function as a form of “local constitution.”
- J.D., University of Pittsburgh, School of Law, 1993
- B.A., Lancaster University, Lancashire, England, 1987
- State Bar of California, 1995