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Case Name Tennessee v. U.S. Department of State IM-TN-0006
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-01040 ( W.D. Tenn. )
State/Territory Tennessee
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Case Summary
This lawsuit, brought by the state of Tennessee, challenges the U.S. Department of State's ability to use state funds to resettle refugees within the United States. On Mar. 13, 2017, Tennessee filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee seeking declaratory and ... read more >
This lawsuit, brought by the state of Tennessee, challenges the U.S. Department of State's ability to use state funds to resettle refugees within the United States. On Mar. 13, 2017, Tennessee filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that provisions of the Refugee Resettlement Act ("the Act") and Refugee Medical Assistance Program violated the Spending Clause and the Tenth Amendment.

The State argued that the intent behind the Act was to avoid taxing states for what was ultimately a federal effort. Since the Act's passage in 1980, Tennessee maintained, the burden on states to fund the program had increased. Moreover, the complaint argued, states were further burdened by a requirement to cover medical costs for refugees until the state itself determines that a refugee is ineligible for the state Medicaid program. Tennessee withdrew its participation from the refugee resettlement program in 2007. The complaint argued that the federal government nevertheless "coerced the state to continue funding" the program by threatening to withdraw federal Medicaid funding, which would amount to a 20% loss of its budget. The complaint further asserted that in establishing a private agency, Catholic Charities of Tennessee, to assume control and of the program in the state, "the federal government nullified the decision of the people of Tennessee to withdraw from an ostensibly voluntary federal program and thereby commandeered state funds to support a federal initiative."

On Mar. 13, 2017, the Court filed notice that the parties should comply with a district court rule requiring them to be referred to alternative dispute resolution. The case was reassigned to Judge S. Thomas Anderson on Mar. 24.

The defendants moved to dismiss the case on Jun. 1. The defendants argued that "the refugee-coverage provision does not compel States to expend Medicaid funds for refugees; it conserves State funds by limiting to seven years the obligation the States would otherwise incur, under the Equal Protection Clause, to provide coverage to refugees on the same terms as they do U.S. citizens."

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Bridge Refugees Services, and the Nashville Intentional Center for Empowerment moved to intervene on Jun. 2. Both plaintiff and defendant filed responses in opposition to that motion to intervene.

The case is ongoing.

Virginia Weeks - 03/27/2017
Virginia Weeks - 09/16/2017
Jamie Kessler - 08/21/2017
Ava Morgenstern - 02/09/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Benefit Source
Medicaid
Constitutional Clause
Federalism
General
Funding
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Immigration/Border
Refugees
Plaintiff Type
State Plaintiff
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) United States Department of State
Plaintiff Description State of Tennessee
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:17-cv-01040 (W.D. Tenn.)
IM-TN-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/18/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
IM-TN-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/13/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 24]
IM-TN-0006-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/01/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Intervenor-Defendants' Motion to Intervene [ECF# 25]
IM-TN-0006-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/02/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 38]
IM-TN-0006-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/14/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Reply Memorandum In Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 39]
IM-TN-0006-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/18/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Anderson, S. Thomas (W.D. Tenn.)
IM-TN-0006-9000
Bryant, Edward G. Court not on record [Magistrate]
IM-TN-0006-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brooks, Brennan Tyler (North Carolina)
IM-TN-0006-0001 | IM-TN-0006-0005 | IM-TN-0006-9000
Combs, Jay Robert (Michigan)
IM-TN-0006-0005 | IM-TN-0006-9000
Oliveri, Kate Margaret (Michigan)
IM-TN-0006-0001 | IM-TN-0006-0005 | IM-TN-0006-9000
Thompson, Richard (Michigan)
IM-TN-0006-0001 | IM-TN-0006-0005 | IM-TN-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Castelli, Thomas H. (Tennessee)
IM-TN-0006-0003 | IM-TN-0006-9000
Gilligan, James J (District of Columbia)
IM-TN-0006-0002 | IM-TN-0006-0006 | IM-TN-0006-9000
Jadwat, Omar C. (New York)
IM-TN-0006-0003 | IM-TN-0006-9000
Laurenzi, Lawrence J. (Tennessee)
IM-TN-0006-0006
Readler, Chad A. (District of Columbia)
IM-TN-0006-0006
Ricketts, Jennifer (District of Columbia)
IM-TN-0006-0006
Robinson, Stuart Justin (California)
IM-TN-0006-0002 | IM-TN-0006-0006 | IM-TN-0006-9000
Wofsy, Cody H. (California)
IM-TN-0006-0003 | IM-TN-0006-9000

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