Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tennessee votes to sue feds over resettlement of refugees: 'Time for states to say no more federal overreach'

Tennessee's General Assembly voted by a wide margin to sue the federal government over its refugee resettlement program, alleging violations of the the Tenth Amendment, the one that guarantees states hold all rights not specifically delegated to the national powers.

The vote on SJR467 first passed the House with a 69 to 25 vote and then the Senate, 29 to 4.

"Today we struck a blow for liberty by finally adopting SJR467," said Sen. Mark Norris, one of the resolution's co-sponsors, in an interview with Breitbart. "The General Assembly clearly understands the importance of public safety and state sovereignty as demonstrated by the overwhelming support of this resolution for which we are thankful. They Syrian surge heightens our sense of urgency to get this properly before the courts, and we urge the attorney general to act without delay."

Tennessee withdrew itself from the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program in 2008. It is now the first state to sue the feds about this program on a states' rights line of argument. As Breitbart noted, Alabama and Texas have launched lawsuits against the federal government for the same program, but on claims feds are violating the Refugee Act of 1980.

"As a state legislator, it is my duty to fulfill my oath and to exercise constitutional authority," said Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, the sponsor of the bill in the House, to Breitbart. "I take it seriously to do all I can to protect the sovereignty of our great state. Either we abide by the Tenth Amendment, or we ignore it. It's time for states to say no more federal overreach and [I] really believe that the federal government was created by the states and not the other way around."

The governor, according to to Tennessee law, does not have to approve resolutions for them to take effect.

The resolution specifically calls on the attorney general to consider representing the General Assembly in a federal suit. It also makes clear that if the attorney general declines, then the Thomas More Law Center has offered to represent the state for free.

A total of 12 states have withdrawn from the federal resettlement program.

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