Tennessee became the first state to sue the federal government over the placement of refugees within the state, arguing it violated the Tenth Amendment and the principles of State sovereignty.
In a press release, the law firm that filed the suit explained the purpose of it, saying the lawsuit is not to inflict harm on refugees, but to preserve the balanced constitutional relationship between the federal government and the States.
Michigan- based law firm, The Thomas More Law Center, filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee General Assembly, and two State legislators.
It came after after Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced he declined to file the lawsuit himself.
The suit seeks a court declaration that the federal government has violated the Tenth Amendment and an order permanently enjoining the federal government from forcing the State of Tennessee to pay money out of its treasury to finance the federal refugee resettlement program.
“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," said Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.
The ACLU of Tennessee responded to the suit saying the suit is a response to the growing intolerance toward Muslims rather than refugees who actually need sanctuary.
Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee released the following statement:
"The Tennessee General Assembly's decision to move forward with this lawsuit is not only very troubling, but unjust and wrong. There is no reason to attack vulnerable families fleeing from terrorism. No matter what Tennessee politicians say, this lawsuit is driven by animus toward Muslims.
The legislature has laid its cards on the table with the selection of a law firm known for its radical anti-Muslim ideology to represent our state. This lawsuit exemplifies and fuels the growing hostility toward Muslims that extends all the way to the White House and President Trump's statements that he wants to ban Muslims.
Cruel attempts to stop the resettlement of refugees blame the victims for the very terror they are trying to escape. We believe that the actions of these politicians do not represent the majority of Tennesseans who believe in helping those in need – especially those fleeing violence and terror to protect their families.
The decision to pursue this lawsuit betrays Tennesseans' values of fairness and justice and we will continue to fight back against attacks on our Muslim neighbors, friends and colleagues."