Judge’s rejection of TN refugee resettlement lawsuit appealed

The Thomas More Law Center, which is representing the state legislature in a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s resettling of refugees in Tennessee, is appealing a judge’s dismissal of the case. The Tennessean reports a formal notice of appeal to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was filed Thursday with approval of lawmakers involved in the matter.

The Republican-controlled legislature voted to authorize the lawsuit by the non-profit group in 2016 after state Attorney General Herbert Slatery declined to act.

… Lawmakers have previously said the lawsuit is necessary to halt all refugee resettlement to the state until all associated costs are paid by the federal government.

Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition have frequently slammed the lawsuit, saying it will negatively affect the state’s refugee community and perpetuate a culture of fear.

In his March dismissal of the case, U.S. District Judge S. Thomas Anderson questioned a claim made by the state that the federal government could cut off funding. 

The decision to appeal the case was made by Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, and Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, who were appointed as designees for the legislature. 

“The district court decision dismissing this case conflicts with several U.S. Supreme Court opinions upholding State sovereignty against overreach by the federal government,” Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said in a statement.

Press release from Diane Black gubernatorial campaign

Nashville, Tenn. – Today, Diane Black released the following statement on the State of Tennessee appealing a federal judge’s ruling that dismissed the lawsuit against the federal government’s resettlement of refugees:

“I applaud the State of Tennessee for choosing to defend our Constitutional rights and appealing this decision,” Black said. “This is an issue of states’ rights. Tennessee withdrew from the refugee resettlement program over a decade ago, and it’s time the federal government listens to the will of the people of Tennessee.”

Excerpt from a joint press release by the American Civil Liberties Union and Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition

In June, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Tennessee had filed a motion to intervene in the state’s lawsuit in order to defend refugee resettlement in Tennessee. The ACLU filed this motion on behalf of groups serving Tennessee refugees, including the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Bridge Refugee Services Inc., and the Nashville International Center for Empowerment. The groups also filed legal arguments explaining why the Tennessee General Assembly’s lawsuit should be thrown out. The court ruled that the ACLU’s motion to intervene was rendered moot by its dismissal of the state’s lawsuit.

Organizational leaders had the following reactions to today’s appeal:

Hedy Weinberg, executive director, ACLU of Tennessee

“The 110th Tennessee General Assembly’s commitment to persecuting people fleeing violence and terror is deeply troubling. As a federal judge has already pointed out, the state has failed to show that refugee resettlement in Tennessee is unconstitutional. There is no reason to attack vulnerable families fleeing from terrorism — other than politicians’ personal animus toward Muslims. This discriminatory attitude is not shared by the majority of Tennesseans, who believe in compassion toward those in need and fair treatment of refugees. We hope that the 6th Circuit quickly affirms the district court’s thoughtful decision.”

Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition

“It’s alarming that a small group of legislators could choose to ignore a judge’s well-reasoned dismissal of this extreme lawsuit and to continue dragging our state’s reputation through the mud, just so they can score a few political points this election season.

Tennesseans want to uphold our values and ensure that families fleeing war and violence can seek refuge and rebuild their lives here. Tennesseans want their leaders to solve real problems and make life better for all of us, not spend time and resources trying to keep victims of war from finding safety.

After passing the country’s most extreme, anti-immigrant bill to make Tennessee the mass deportation state, some legislators seem to be committed to doing everything in their power to cement our state’s reputation as the most hateful and unwelcoming state in the country.”

7 Responses to Judge’s rejection of TN refugee resettlement lawsuit appealed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Posts and Opinions about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.