Eagle Forum Files Brief in Tennessee States Rights Case

Although stymied by the courts at other levels, the important Tenth Amendment case involving the Constitutional challenge against the federal government’s ever increasing cost-shifting to the states for the care of refugees is still alive.

There was a time when I thought that the political process was the place to change refugee policy in America, but truthfully I am seeing little hope of any real change as Trump enters his fourth year in the White House.

Cutting the number of admissions is fine, but no real structural changes have been sought for the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program by the administration. (The governor approval process seriously backfired, and Congress is useless as members cower in fear of being called racists.)

Maybe there is still some hope that the courts will see how unfair and unconstitutional it is for states to carry a financial burden placed on them by the feds.

From the Thomas More Law Center:

Eagle Forum Files Brief Supporting Thomas More Law Center’s ‘Federalism Challenge’ to Tennessee Refugee Resettlement Program

ANN ARBOR, MI – The Eagle Forum and its Tennessee chapter added their influential voices urging the U.S. Supreme Court to grant the Thomas More Law Center’s request to review (“petition for certiorari”) a Sixth Circuit Court decision which held that the Tennessee General Assembly lacked institutional standing to challenge the Federal Refugee Resettlement program. Their amicus brief (“friend of the court brief”), authored by Nashville attorney Joanne Bregman, was filed late last week.

Bregman observed, “The ongoing conversations between the President and state governors concerning recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing a renewed interest in federalism – the same constitutional principle of dual sovereignty which is the basis of the General Assembly’s lawsuit against federal commandeering of state dollars to fund the federal refugee resettlement program.”

The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national nonprofit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and John Bursch, a nationally prominent appellate lawyer are representing the General Assembly without charge. Bursch authored the General Assembly’s petition for certiorari, which asks the Supreme Court to overturn the Sixth Circuit’s ruling.

The petition for certiorari, filed on March 16, 2020, objects to forcing Tennessee taxpayers to pay the costs of the resettlement: “If a state legislature cannot vindicate its rights in court when the federal government picks the state’s pocket and threatens the state if it dare stop providing funds, then federalism is a dead letter.”

Richard Thompson

The Eagle Forum, a national conservative organization with 80,000 members founded by the late legendary Phyllis Schlafly in 1972, has significantly impacted public policy at both state and national levels. The Tennessee chapter headed by Mrs. Bobbie Patray was the first state chapter to question the power of the federal government to coerce state legislators to use state revenues to fund the federal refugee resettlement program.

Richard Thompson, TMLC’s President and Chief Counsel, commented:

“Justice Scalia considered the principles of federalism, the same principles that undergird our challenge to the federal refugee resettlement program, more important to the American democracy than the Bill of Rights.

Considering the continued controversy between the Nation’s governors and the President over the best way to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, a grant of certiorari would present the Supreme Court with an opportunity to calm the waters over their conflicting claims of power by expounding on Federalism 101.”

Continued Thompson, “Because of the significance of this issue, I’m grateful that the Eagle Forum and its Tennessee chapter were able to assist our efforts to obtain Supreme Court review.”

According to the amicus brief: “Forcing state legislators to expend state resources outside of the normal appropriations process directly interferes with their duties to the state and to their constituents. If the federal government cannot compel a state to fund federal programs, then a state should not be forced to divert funding from essential and traditional state government services in order to operationalize a federal program from which the state has withdrawn.”

Tennessee initially agreed to participate in the federal refugee resettlement program. But when the federal government refused to cover the state costs as it originally promised and as the 1980 Refugee Act intended, Tennessee withdrew from the program in 2008. Nevertheless, the federal government merely designated Catholic Charities of Tennessee, a non-governmental private organization, to continue the program while still forcing the state to pay for it.

Bregman notes the threat to state sovereignty powers by federally coerced spending, especially at a time when the needs of Tennessee’s citizens are dire, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of deadly tornadoes which ripped through 100 miles of Tennessee counties.

The amicus brief concludes, “There is no room in the Constitution’s framework to permit the federal government or its agencies to take state funds without the express consent of the state’s appropriating body.”

Read the Eagle Forums’ entire amicus brief here.

Read TMLC’s Petition for Certiorari here.

Two additional briefs were filed, see here and here.

 

Will the Supreme Court Hear the Ultimate States Rights Case?

I know it’s a little hard to believe that there are other things going on in America besides the virus crisis, but here is important news I should have mentioned sooner.

The Thomas More Law Center has filed a petition to attempt to get the Supreme Court to review the Tenth Amendment case that has been working its way through the legal system.

The heart of the case is the Tenth Amendment argument that the federal government has no Constitutional power to shift the cost of refugee resettlement onto state governments as it has been doing for decades.

TMLC is looking for other like-minded organizations to file amicus briefs in support of their argument which has far-reaching implications beyond just the refugee program!

Here is their press release from earlier this month.

Thomas More Law Center Petitions U.S. Supreme Court to Review Tennessee’s Challenge to Federal Refugee Resettlement Program

ANN ARBOR, MI – In what could have far reaching implications for all states seeking to withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program, the Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”) collaborating with attorney John Bursch, filed a certiorari petition Monday, March 16 in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Will they, or won’t they consider the Tenth Amendment case about how the feds have been dumping the costs of refugee resettlement on the states?

 

The petition asks the Court to hold that the Tennessee General Assembly has standing to challenge the constitutionality of the federal government’s forced state funding of the federal refugee resettlement program. ​

The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”) is a national nonprofit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Both TMLC and Mr. Bursch are representing Tennessee without charge.

John Bursch, a former Michigan state solicitor general, nationally prominent appellate lawyer and past chair of the American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers, authored the petition for certiorari.

The petition argues that the issues presented in the Tennessee case cut to the core of the Constitution’s protection of states against overreach by the federal government. The Constitution does not give Congress the authority to appropriate state funds, contrary to the wishes of the state, to fund a federal program.

According to the petition: “If a state legislature cannot vindicate its rights in court when the federal government picks the state’s pocket and threatens the state if it dare stop providing funds, then federalism is a dead letter.”

The petition seeks to overturn a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which ruled that the General Assembly does not have institutional standing to challenge the constitutionality of the resettlement program. The cert petition does not challenge the federal government’s right to resettle refugees in Tennessee. What it objects to is forcing Tennessee taxpayers to pay the costs of the resettlement.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of TMLC, noted: “From the beginning, opposition to the federal refugee resettlement program has been about protecting Tennessee’s state sovereignty from impermissible federal interference. The federal government cannot simply commandeer state tax dollars to fund a purely federal program to extend benefits to noncitizens.”

Tennessee initially agreed to participate in the federal resettlement program because the federal government promised to reimburse 100 percent of the cost. In fact, Congress crafted the 1980 Refugee Act specifically intending that states not be taxed for programs they did not initiate and for which they were not responsible. As is often the case, however, the federal government began shrinking its financial support to the states and by 1991 eliminated it entirely. Due to the mounting costs the federal government was not covering as promised, Tennessee withdrew from the program effective June 30, 2008. But that didn’t stop the federal financial burden on Tennessee taxpayers. The federal government simply designated Catholic Charities of Tennessee, a non-governmental private organization, to continue the program with state dollars.

Between 2007 and the end of 2019, resettlement agencies pumped more than 15,000 refugees into Tennessee cities and towns. They came from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burma, Central African Republic, Congo, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan 3 and many other countries. They often arrive from United Nations camps in poor health, with no job skills or English-language abilities.

The resulting cost to state taxpayers amounted to tens of millions of dollars. In 2015 alone, the refugee-related Medicaid costs paid by Tennessee tax dollars topped $30 million.

Instead of resolving the merits of Tennessee’s claim, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sidestepped the pivotal constitutional issue concerning federalism by ruling that the Tennessee General Assembly lacked standing to bring its lawsuit.

The petition filed on March 16, 2020, argues that this was in error:

“The General Assembly is an institutional plaintiff asserting an institutional injury; the federal government has co-opted the General Assembly’s appropriation power and impaired its obligation to enact a balanced state budget. That is because the federal government can siphon state funds—to help pay for a federal program from which Tennessee has withdrawn.”

TMLC originally filed the federal lawsuit in March 2017 on behalf of the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee General Assembly, and state legislators Terri Lynn Weaver and John Stevens challenging the commandeering of millions in state taxpayer dollars for a purely federal program.

A U.S. district court judge dismissed the case on the federal government’s motion. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s dismissal on the sole grounds that the General Assembly lacked standing. It never reached the merits of the case.

The Supreme Court now has a chance to shed light on the proper role of the states relative to the federal government—which is the bedrock constitutional principle of federalism.

The petition states: “The (Tennessee) General Assembly does not object to the federal resettlement program. It does not even object to the federal government resettling 4 refugees in Tennessee. The General Assembly does object to the federal government reaching its hand into Tennessee’s pocket to pay for the cost of such a program, particularly when the enabling legislation was enacted with the promise to reimburse states for all expenses incurred in this program.”

The federal government mandates that states provide Medicaid to otherwise eligible refugees, or face termination of federal benefits.

Accordingly, the federal government forces Tennessee to continue funding the refugee program by threatening to pull $7 billion in federal Medicaid funding, which represents 20 percent of the state’s total budget.

The argument in favor of the General Assembly’s standing is bolstered by the fact that both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in 2016 in favor of filing a civil lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal refugee resettlement program. The State Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 467, by a vote of 27-5 while the House voted 69-25 to pass the same resolution.

And without any waiting period they can automatically apply for all welfare programs provided by the State of Tennessee.

Read TMLC’s Petition for Certiorari here. 

If you know any organization that is in agreement with the broad-reaching tenets of the case, please have them contact the Thomas Moore Law Center immediately.  Time is short!

Tennessee: Bill Advances that would Require Legislature to Okay Spending on Refugees

And, of course the refugee industry as represented by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights cabal (TIRRC) is steaming!

By the way, this legislation is a possible model for you in states where your Republican governor has caved to the Open Borders Left and said yes to more refugees for your state.  Of course it could only work in states where the legislature has a Republican majority with some guts.

First here is the news, then we’ll learn a bit more about TIRRC which has 6 paid lobbyists included in a staff of 14 while those organizing grassroots on the side of restraining more migration, in pockets of resistance, must do so with no funding support.

From Fox 17 Nashville:

Tennessee committee advances bill seeking to halt refugee resettlement

NASHVILLE, Tenn.–The Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) is calling a Tennessee House of Representatives bill recommended for passage “hateful.”

TIRRC says Rep. Weaver is appealing to “hateful” voters with her bill.

HJR 741 targets state funds used to resettle refugees as part of a federal program which allows states to opt-in to accept refugee resettlement.

Under the bill originally filed by Rep. Teri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster), HJR 741 calls for no action to be taken by Governor Bill Lee when it comes to resettlement unless authorized by a joint resolution of the General Assembly.

The bill targets Governor Lee due to his decision to continue to accept refugees in the state in response to an Executive Order issued by President Donald J. Trump last year. President Trump had issued the “Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement” order in September.

Under the Executive Order, the Federal Government would only be able to resettle refugees in specific areas where state and local governments agree to accept refugees.

One of TIRRC’s paid staffers is happy to lob the “hate” label. But, Ms. Clerjeune loves the governor now! See here: https://refugeeresettlementwatch.org/2019/12/20/tennessee-republican-governor-bill-lee-caves-says-tennessee-will-invite-more-refugees/

However, the decision is ultimately in the hands of each state’s governor and Lee made the decision to continue participation.

Rep. Weaver’s resolution says Governor Lee’s decision obligates public money “in violation of the Tennessee General Assembly’s constitutional duty.” The resolution was recommended for passage on Tuesday by the Departments & Agencies Subcommittee.

TIRRC is calling the advancement part of a “classic hateful playbook.” TIRRC Votes Police and Legislative Affairs Manager Judith Clerjeune issued the following statement in response to the resolution…

You can read it yourself here.

Who is TIRRC?

A few days ago Tennessee’s Dailyrollcall reported on TIRRC and its fellow travelers that include the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity!

Tennessee Elected Officials – is it the Tenth or TIRRC For You?

Republican governors, like Tennessee’s Bill Lee, have given up any pretense of caring about the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution by allowing the federal government to dictate how Tennesseans will spend their tax dollars.

 

TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition’s political arm called TIRRC VOTES, has SIX paid lobbyists. TIRRC itself has 14 on staff, Soros money and is running multiple email disinformation campaigns on refugee resettlement, targeting state legislators, local county commissioners and any other locally elected official.

At it’s core, TIRRC’s agenda aligns with that of the New American Economy (NAE, formerly named the Partnership for a New American Economy) outfit, along with the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity (AFP), two big dollar organizations mobilized to push more legal and illegal immigrants into communities. Like TIRRC, NAE and AFP are pushing back on key Trump immigration policies intended to help American citizens prosper.

NAE, AFP and TIRRC like to push the false economic-enhancing narrative of legal immigrants like refugees and illegal aliens. TIRRC also thinks name-calling like xenophobe, racist and hater, is an effective tool to silence anyone who disagrees with their agenda.

While TIRRC’s coalition member the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) parades refugees turned Tennesseans, NAE puts out reports claiming that after living in the U.S. between 16-25 years, refugees are earn “well above the income of refugees who have been here for five years or less.” They also claim that refugees are the answer to reviving aging and declining communities.

TIRRC parrots these same points trying to deflect from the Tennessee issues. With regard to the federal refugee program, Tennessee legislators and advocates have raised the core Constitutional issue of federalism on the one hand, and the role of the state’s legislature to appropriate public money, on the other.

On these important state issues, it appears that Governor Lee has aligned himself lock, stock and barrel with TIRRC as opposed to advocating for the state’s Tenth Amendment rights and Tennessee’s Constitutional powers and duties.

Much more here.

After Maryland Judge’s Decision, What is Next?

I don’t know.  I guess we wait for the Justice Department’s response to the decision that halted the President’s first effort to reform the US Refugee Admissions Program.

Here is a brief statement from the White House immediately after learning of the decision.

Another lawless district court has asserted its own preferred immigration policy in place of the laws of the United States – and, in so doing, robbed millions of American citizens of their voice and their say in a vital issue directly affecting their communities. President Trump rightly and justly recognized that your communities are unique, and while some cities have the resources to adequately support refugees and help them be successful, not all communities can sustain the substantial and costly burden. Knowing that, the Trump Administration fulfilled a key promise by giving States and localities a seat at the table in deciding whether or not refugees will be placed in your communities. In addition, under the Refugee Act of 1980, Congress explicitly afforded the President authority over the refugee resettlement process, including by taking local consultation into account. This is a preposterous ruling, one more example of nationwide district court injunctions run amok, and we are expeditiously reviewing all options to protect our communities and preserve the integrity of the refugee resettlement process.

So what happens to the Executive Order and the process it spawned to obtain consents, or non-consents, for the placement of refugees in states and counties?  I’m assuming it all grinds to a halt for now.

Daniel Horowitz at Conservative Review suggests that the President is a lame duck right now if he doesn’t challenge these rogue court decisions, see here.

News reports are coming in about how county elected officials are sighing with relief that they don’t have to go on record as for or against refugee arrivals for their towns and cities because of the court ruling.

Why did my Republican governor cave and consent to taking on an extra burden for taxpayers and more social/cultural unrest by telling the Dept. of State to send more refugees?

That is a question I got from a reader this morning.

Many reasons (pick one, or more!):

~Fear of being called an unwelcoming racist.

~He/she was getting pressure from groups on the religious Left (including the contractors) many of which financially benefit from refugee arrivals, or will benefit because they are Leftists who see a new voting block. Many are one-worlders working to destroy national sovereignty.

In some states CAIR was active (Minnesota and Maryland for sure) with their usual hammer—any gov who said no would surely be called an Islamophobe.

~Pressure from the Chamber of Commerce and their ilk which wants more refugees because refugees need housing and buy cars.

~Lobbying (and likely campaign donations) from large corporations including, global corporations that need the steady supply of cheap subservient labor—BIG MEAT and BIG POULTRY, for example.

And, I’m sure there are other less obvious reasons.

But, most importantly the governor knew that there were more in his/her state on the side of inviting refugees than there are of you who want to see the program constrained or flat out abolished.

Now that isn’t so everywhere. Here is a story from Tennessee yesterday about how one county commission struggled with the decision and ultimately did nothing on the same day that the Maryland judge slapped the President down.

It is an opinion piece (for more refugees) critical of the non-action taken at a county meeting this week. One line jumped out at me, from the Chattanooga Times Free Press as the reason the meeting ended with no action:

Their reticence to vote for the resolution, like Coppinger’s, was likely born because, as the mayor said, “you cannot overcome social media.”

Clearly the opposition to more refugees being placed in Hamilton County was of sufficient magnitude to at least stop the consent train.

The opposition to more resettlement in Tennessee may be the strongest and best organized in the nation.  The problem is every state doesn’t have the grassroots network that Tennessee has developed over the years.

We have to change that, if we expect to do battle with the juggernaut of Leftwing/Dems working with big business interests and RINO governors that are changing America by changing the people.

But, your first order of business is to buy more time by getting Donald Trump re-elected.

Send me an e-mail with the subject line, grassroots organizing, and I’ll try to put you together with others in your state.

RefugeeWatcher@gmail.com

Tennessee Counties Feeling Betrayed by ‘Biblical Bill’ Planning Rebuke

When Tennessee Governor Lee foolishly caved to pressure from Leftwingers and asserted that Yup! Tennessee would welcome a fresh batch of refugees in the coming year, many Republicans who elected him felt betrayed.

TN Gov Bill Lee joins ‘religious Left’ in opposition to the President on refugee resettlement!

In other states where your Republican governor has turned against the President on refugees, you might feel betrayed too, but in Tennessee passions are apparently much higher.

During the term of Tennessee’s previous governor, the state filed a Tenth Amendment lawsuit against the feds over the refugee program there and Lee said, while campaigning for his new job, that he supported that case still winding its way through the courts.

Now, Lee (dubbed ‘Biblical Bill’  by a Tennessee-based website), conservatives feel has double-crossed the people who put him in office.

Breitbart  reporter John Binder reported late last night that action against the governor is underway.

Exclusive: Tennessee Counties Consider Rebuking Gov. Bill Lee’s Approval of More Refugee Resettlement

About a third of Tennessee’s 95 counties, thus far, are considering rebuking Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s approval for the State Department to resettle more refugees in the state next year, Breitbart News has exclusively learned.

[….]

Last week, Lee gave official approval to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to resettle more refugees in the state of Tennessee next year despite a high-profile Tenth Amendment lawsuit that questions the constitutionality of the refugee resettlement program.

Now, at least 31 counties in Tennessee are considering adopting a resolution that rebukes Lee’s approval for more refugees and demands that refugees not be resettled in non-consenting counties. The resolution contends that even if some counties do not consent to refugee resettlement, neighboring consenting counties will be allowed to resettle refugees in those non-consenting counties’ borders.

That reference to non-consenting counties potentially receiving refugees refers to the US State Department rule that contractors may place refugees within a one-hundred-mile radius of their local subcontractor’s office.

The Dailyrollcall.com published this map to show how the 4 federally contracted resettlement offices operating in the state in fact are allowed (according to the feds!) to spread refugees in almost the entire state!

I reported on the map here.

Breitbart continues….

Breitbart News exclusively obtained the resolution, which reads:

BE IT RESOLVED that [County Name] does not want to be forced into participating in the federal refugee resettlement program due to either Governor Lee’s consent and/or being within the permissible placement radius of a resettlement agency office. [Emphasis added]

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that [County Name] requests that Governor Lee retract his consent for initial resettlement in Tennessee for both the one year period of time as stated in his letter and/or the actual consent period required by the Funding Notice. [Emphasis added]

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that [County Name] requests that in the event Governor Lee does not retract his consent for initial refugee resettlement, that [Lee] submit a revised letter of consent to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and to Lt. Governor Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton exempting non-consenting counties from forced participation in the initial resettlement of refugees in Tennessee. [Emphasis added]

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that [County Name] requests that Governor Lee by written notice inform the resettlement agencies which maintain offices and operations in Tennessee that they may not place arriving refugees in non-consenting counties. [Emphasis added]

Read it all.  

Whether you live in a Democrat run state or in one of the 15 states where the Republicans have turned on the President, you too could use this resolution model where you live. Obviously change the names and some of the facts.

I wasn’t going to list the states where Republican governors have gone against the President until they appeared on the US State Department’s official list, but since the DOS is dragging its feet getting its list up-to-date, below is the list of Rs who are welcoming more poverty to your state.

You might well characterize these Republicans as particularly dumb for consenting long before they have to according to the Funding Guidance, but I suspect they thought they might get brownie points from the Open Borders agitators led by the refugee resettlement contractors in their states.

I’m hoping that you won’t hold back in telling them what you think!

BTW, I should have made it clear above that according to the Funding Guidance, counties must opt-in as well as the governor.  If the governor is out, than that settles it for a small portion of FY2020 (from June to end of September), no refugees would be permitted placement (with a few exceptions).

From Daniel Horowitz here yesterday:

There could be more weak Republicans this morning turning on the President on a key 2016 campaign promise.  I haven’t looked yet.