Press release from Tennessee State Representative John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, Nov. 30, 2015:
Federal government’s authority and the Supremacy Clause would be violated by any state action
Nashville, TN – Upon the request of state Representative John Ray Clemmons, state Representative Jason Powell and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart, the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office today issued an opinion on whether the state’s legislative or executive branch may refuse to accept refugees for resettlement within the state.
In response to Clemmons’ and the others’ request, the Attorney General stated, in part, as follows:
No. Such a refusal would impinge on and conflict with the federal government’s authority to regulate the admission of aliens to the United States and thus would violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“In a thoroughly researched and well-written opinion, the Attorney General has swiftly and accurately opined that the federal government possesses the authority to regulate the admission and placement of refugees in this country, confirming what most of us understood to be the law of these United States,” said state Representative John Ray Clemmons.
“It was and remains my sincere intention for this opinion to preempt the drafting and introduction of any unconstitutional legislation on this topic, thus saving taxpayers’ money and focusing precious legislative resources on issues such as Insure Tennessee and education and transportation infrastructure funding. It is also my hope that this opinion gives refugees in Tennessee a little peace of mind, knowing that radical reactionaries in state government cannot unilaterally hinder their reunions with loved ones,” Clemmons added.
“In my statement of November 18, 2015, I called on President Obama and the federal government to re-double their efforts to ensure that a terrorist is unable to hide among the thousands of innocent refugees seeking to resettle in our country. I also requested Governor Haslam and my colleagues in the General Assembly to allocate some of our state’s approximately one billion dollar surplus to increase funding for local public safety officers and the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security to complement the efforts of the federal government and help ensure that Tennesseans are protected and our families remain safe. Today, I respectfully reiterate those requests.”
A complete copy of the Attorney General Opinion No. 15-77 can be found here.