AG Will Not File Anti-Refugee Lawsuit

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
July 6, 2016 5:00 pm

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NASHVILLE – Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III announced today that his office will not file a lawsuit against the federal government for allegedly failing to consult with the state on refugee resettlement and mandating appropriation of state revenue.

The Tennessee General Assembly had directed the attorney general to file such a lawsuit under a resolution passed last spring, SJR 467. Governor Bill Haslam allowed SJR 467 to become law without his signature, citing concerns over the measure’s implications for the separation of powers.

SJR 467 also authorizes employment of outside counsel to file such a lawsuit should the attorney general refuse to do so. Slatery indicated that his office will not try to stop the legislature from pursuing a lawsuit on its own.

Under Tennessee statutes, the Tennessee General Assembly has no authority to file lawsuits or to retain counsel to file lawsuits on behalf of the state.

A federal court recently dismissed a similar lawsuit in Texas, holding that there was no legal merit to Texas’s claim.

The following can be attributed to Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee:

“We are pleased that the attorney general has chosen not to waste taxpayer money embroiling his office in a pernicious lawsuit that is bound to fail, just as Texas’s recent lawsuit did. However, we are disappointed that state leadership has chosen to sit on the sidelines and allow legislators to pursue this thinly-veiled attempt to halt refugee resettlement. This resolution not only dismantles the separation of powers in our state, it represents the very type of discriminatory governmental action that the separation of powers should be safeguarding against. We will continue working to ensure that refugees in Tennessee are treated fairly and justly.”

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