Political Pressure Mounts in Tennessee As State Rep. Circulates Letter to Sign State House Up for Constitutional Challenge to Refugees

Refugees and migrants wait for free blankets and raincoats before disembarking from a gove
Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster), the daughter of a refugee from Yugoslavia who came to the United States in 1952 as a twelve-year-old, wants the Tennessee General Assembly to step up if Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam fails to launch a constitutional challenge to the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program.

Weaver is circulating a letter to her colleagues in the Tennessee House of Representatives asking for their support in signing that body up as the plaintiff in a constitutional challenge to that federal program prepared by the Thomas More Law Center, a well respected public interest law firm.

Haslam, a Republican, has not yet indicated whether he will sign the state up as the plaintiff in the case. While the head of the executive branch presents the strongest case for a state to obtain “standing” as the plaintiff in any federal case, legal experts do not rule out the possibility that a state legislature could also serve as the plaintiff.

News of Weaver’s actions in the House comes just days after State Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) asked the Tennessee Attorney General to hire the Thomas More Law Center to represent Tennessee in a constitutional challenge to the implementation of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program in the state.

These actions in the Tennessee House and the Tennessee State Senate indicate growing political pressure throughout the state for Governor Haslam to become a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Weaver tells Breitbart News she had already secured 18 signatures from her fellow GOP caucus members as of late Friday. There are 99 members of the Tennessee House of Representatives, 73 of whom are Republican.

Weaver tells Breitbart News she is seeking 60 signatures and believes that number should be attainable when she returns to the State Capitol later this week from her home in Smith County.

“I think it would be a no-brainer for state representatives to do this to protect our state and our country,” Weaver tells Breitbart News.

“People come up to me in the grocery store and ask why is it so hard for our leaders in government to make the call and recognize that we are at war with an ideology that wants to fundamentally change who we are, our principles, and what we believe in as Americans,” she adds.

Here’s the letter Weaver sent to her GOP House colleagues on December 8:

To My Fellow Caucus Members,

Today, I am sending you the attached statement of support, simply asking for members who believe we have a duty to protect our constituents to join with me as we move forward to protect our state sovereignty.

We have been told over and over that the states have no recourse, and it’s left up to the federal government to determine refugee resettlement in our state, which, basically is an unfunded federal mandate. We are at war with radical Islam. How many more Americans or Tennesseans must die before we step up to the plate and do what we are called to do as state legislators? Our immigration system is definitely broken, and until it is entirely fixed, we, as a state, must do all we can to prevent further disaster, such as San Bernardino, from happening in our own backyard AGAIN.

Please review the attachment, affix your signature if you are in agreement, and return to me by email.


WE THE UNDERSIGNED, Members of the Tennessee 109th General Assembly, House of Representatives, agree to serve as plaintiffs in a suit asserting the state’s constitutional claims to challenge the federal government’s refugee resettlement program as it is implemented in Tennessee.

We understand that the Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm, has been studying this issue for several months and believes a state like Tennessee has a strong and meritorious claim that the refugee resettlement program violates State Sovereignty principles under the 10th Amendment.

We further understand that the Thomas More Law Center will provide representation to the State of Tennessee at no cost to the state or individual representatives.

“As the daughter of a refugee, this particular issue is very near and dear to my heart. At twelve years old my dad, Anthony Gerich, came over in 1952 on a U.S. Naval ship back in the day when we actually obeyed the law on the process. It took my family five years to get clearance to come in. They came from what was then Yugoslavia. My dad’s family were Germans living in Yugoslavia,” Weaver says.

“They were refugees. They had to be sponsored by a family in the United States. The head of the household had to have a job secured in order to support the family. They didn’t have taxpayer subsidies, like Food stamps, Medicare, and TANF. They had no help from government subsidies,” she adds.

“Daddy had to sit in a first grade class to learn our language,” she tells Breitbart News, noting that taxpayers today fund multi-million dollar programs designed to help refugees learn English. Her father learned English quickly, she says, because he wanted to be an American.

“People back in those days came to be Americans, not German-Americans,” Weaver adds.

Dick Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, thinks Tennessee, as a Wilson-Fish alternative program state, has a meritorious constitutional claim against the federal government to end the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program on Tenth Amendment grounds that it represents an unfunded federal mandate.

Sources tell Breitbart News that Governor Haslam has not ruled out the possibility of serving as the plaintiff in such a constitutional challenge to the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. Actions by the Tennessee General Assembly that encourage the state to become the plaintiff add political pressure on Haslam to act. It remains unclear how Haslam will respond as political pressure continues to mount.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.