[3/17/17] Tennessee has filed a complaint against the federal government, challenging the latter’s refugee resettlement program.
The state’s General Assembly filed the lawsuit on March 13, claiming that the federal government is forcing states to spend money they don’t have to comply with mandates sent down from Washington, D.C., managing the settlement of international refugees.
Defendants in the lawsuit include the U.S Departments of State and Health and Human Services, and their respective secretaries.
Neither Republican Governor Bill Haslam nor the Attorney General Herbert Slatery supports the legislature’s lawsuit.
The complaint avers, “The state funds commandeered to support the federal government’s refugee resettlement program deprive plaintiffs of scarce financial resources that are critical for protecting the welfare, health, and safety of all Tennesseans.” Specifically, legislators mention money earmarked for teaching English as a second language to refugees.
According to an ABC News report, The Thomas More Law Center, a private firm, stepped in to file suit for the General Assembly after the state’s attorney general rejected the request to do so.The same report indicates that the Thomas More Law Center is representing the Republican-majority General Assembly pro bono. The firm is assisted by attorney B. Tyler Brooks with the law firm of Millberg Gordon Stewart PLLC located in Raleigh, North Carolina, who is also working without fee.
The Thomas More Law Center’s website declares that the firm’s mission is to “Preserve America’s Judeo-Christian heritage; Defend the religious freedom of Christians; Restore time-honored moral and family values; Protect the sanctity of human life; Promote a strong national defense and a free and sovereign United States of America.”
In a press release announcing the group’s participation in the legal challenge to the federal refugee program, Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said, “Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts has observed, ‘The States are separate and independent sovereigns. Sometimes they have to act like it.’ We intend to follow that advice in our lawsuit on behalf of the State of Tennessee and its citizens. We are asking the Court to stop the bleeding out of millions of Tennessee taxpayer dollars each year to fund a federal program from which the State officially withdrew in 2007.”
“Although there are compelling policy reasons to dismantle the existing refugee resettlement program in favor of resettling refugees in Middle East safe-zones as President Trump has suggested, this lawsuit focuses solely on the unconstitutional way the federal program is currently operating in the State of Tennessee,” Thompson added.