Federal Court Blocks Tennessee Bid to Cut Spending on Refugee Services

‘This case was always about the 10th Amendment and a state’s rights to determine how our citizens’ tax dollars are spent…’

Federal Court Rules Against Tennessee in Refugee Case

Despite the clout of nationally known attorney John Bursch, efforts to get the 6th Circuit court to rule in favor of Tennessee’s bid to cut a federal refugee resettlement program were unsuccessful. / IMAGE: Thomas More Law Center

(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) A federal appeals court ruled against Tennessee lawmakers Wednesday after the state attempted to shut down a federal refugee resettlement program that forces taxpayers to spend money on services for migrants, like healthcare and education.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Tennessee’s GOP-led legislature didn’t provide evidence of harm, and thereby legal standing, to sue on the state’s behalf.

“The General Assembly has not identified an injury that it has suffered, such as disruption of the legislative process, a usurpation of its authority, or nullification of anything it has done,” the opinion states, according to the Associated Press.

The legislature filed suit in 2017 through the Thomas More Law Center, but the suit was dismissed in 2018. The legislature appealed but was struck down again.


“While I respect the decision that the court made, I’m certainly disappointed that we were not successful in asserting the ability of Tennessee taxpayers to determine how their tax dollars were spent,” said state House Majority Leader William Lamberth. “This case was always about the 10th Amendment and a state’s rights to determine how our citizens’ tax dollars are spent.”

According to a U.S. Justice Department attorney, more than 500 refugees were placed in Tennessee last year under the federal resettlement program. In 2016, more than 2,000 refugees were resettled in the state.

“If the program were entirely funded by federal tax dollars, that would be one thing, but this is a program that sucks state and county tax dollars out of taxpayer pockets for a program that is 100 percent federal in nature,” Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center, said in a statement.

“Counties face overcrowded schools and are forced to invest in new brick-and-mortar projects, while courts, jails and hospitals are also being forced to provide services to the refugees.”