Stephen Vaden

General Counsel

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Stephen Vaden is the General Counsel for the United States Department of Agriculture. He previously practiced law at Jones Day where he counseled clients on a range of political law issues and represented parties before tribunals at all levels of the state and federal court systems. He also represented clients involved in pretrial government investigations and other enforcement actions.

Prior to joining Jones Day in 2014, Stephen worked at an international firm where he focused on appellate litigation and political law. He successfully briefed and argued Lillliputian Systems, Inc. v. PHMSA, 741 F.3d 1309 (D.C. Cir. 2014), which challenged the agency’s failure to harmonize American regulations governing what items passengers may carry with them on board aircraft with the U.N.-approved international standards. The D.C. Circuit unanimously remanded the rule back to the agency after finding that the agency failed to adequately explain and support its decision. Stephen also filed an amicus brief on behalf of the American Association of University Professors in a Kentucky Supreme Court case examining the application of the First Amendment’s ministerial exception to tenured college professors challenging their terminations. The Kentucky Supreme Court cited to the brief in its unanimous decisions finding that the ministerial exception did not bar the professors’ suits. See Kant v. Lexington Theological Seminary, 426 S.W.3d 587 (Ky. 2014); Kirby v. Lexington Theological Seminary, 426 S.W.3d 597 (Ky. 2014).

Stephen also served two federal clerkships where he worked on matters involving complex issues of constitutional, securities, and international law. During his tenure as a district court clerk, he was responsible for managing a major multidistrict securities case resulting from the fallout of the mortgage-backed securities collapse of 2007-2008.