Oral Arguments Heard In Tennessee Refugee Resettlement Case
By Jennifer G. Hickey | March 21, 2019
Tennessee filed the suit in March 2017 alleging that it was being forced to spend money on a federal refugee resettlement program, which began in the 1980s, and that the federal government’s threat to cut off Medicaid funding if it refused to provide benefits to refugees was akin to coercion, thus a violation of the 10th Amendment.
Attorneys representing the Republican-led Tennessee General Assembly were hoping to reverse a March 2018 ruling that tossed out their lawsuit.
Federal judge S. Thomas Anderson of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee ruled that the state and its representatives lacked standing to sue and that they did not provide sufficient evidence to prove injury.
Although Tennessee officially withdrew from participation in the federal refugee resettlement program in 2008, attorneys argued that the government continues to use state funds for it.
“When the federal government implements an exclusively federal program, it cannot commandeer state funds to pay for it under a threat that the federal government will cut 20 percent of the state's budget if it does not comply," said John Bursch, a lawyer with the Thomas More Law Center hired by the state to argue the case.