Last month,Tennessee’s Senate passed a resolution (SJR467) that would authorize suing the federal government over a federal program that (1) violates the Tenth Amendment and the Tennessee constitution in its implementation, and (2) brings with it, very real security issues. State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, who has been leading the effort to pass the bill states “The purpose of Senate Joint Resolution 467 is to initiate legal proceedings for declaratory relief in light of the mandatory expenditure of state funds under a federal program from which the state has formally withdrawn,” “It’s a simple proposition asking for declaratory relief”
Senator Norris further explains “First, federal law requires the federal govt to consult with the state of Tennessee concerning the placement of refugees before and, I would submit, during their placement within the state of Tennessee. That consultation at least as of last week had not yet occurred, Secondly, we have a situation where the state of Tennessee under Governor Phil Bredesen formally withdrew from the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program in 2007.”
“In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in the now famous NFIB v Sebelius case ‘a state cannot be compelled or coerced to participate in a federal program for which it has chosen not to participate.’ We have here the expenditure of state funds under I think as many as 11 different programs including Medicaid. The problem is we are not specifically appropriating funds as required by the Tennessee State Constitution.”
Norris continues “What has happened … is that since that time the federal government has engaged in significant cost shifting. There was a time when the federal government paid 100 percent of the costs associated with these various programs. Today that is no longer the case.”
” In essence.. what is happening here is that the federal government has done indirectly what it could not do directly. They’ve delegated [operation of the program] to the voluntary agency, Catholic Charities, but have increasingly required the State of Tennessee to pick up the cost. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed for declaratory relief by the federal courts.We need a declaration of our [sovereign state] rights under these circumstances.”
The Thomas More Law Center, a conservative public interest law firm, has offered to represent the state of Tennessee free of charge.
What can you do? Contact the members of the TN State Government Subcommittee that will be the first subcommittee considering SJR467. Remember, SJR467 would authorize a legal challenge to the federal government’s refugee resettlement program. The crux of this resolution is the protection of the Citizens of Tennessee, the sovereignty of the State, and its Constitution.
Rep. Bill Sanderson – chair of subcommittee firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Bud Hulsey email@example.com
Rep. Mary Littleton firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Bob Ramsey – email@example.com
Rep. Darren Jernigan rep.darren.jernigan@capitol.TN.gov