Press Releases

TNDP: Federal Judge Sanctions ‘Birther’ Attorney for Frivolous Lawsuit

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; August 28, 2012: 

U.S. District Court Judge S. Thomas Anderson, who dismissed in June a “birther” lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s place on the ballot in Tennessee, sanctioned Friday the plaintiffs’ attorney, Van Irion, for bringing a frivolous lawsuit.

In the suit, the Liberty Legal Foundation, a right-wing group led by Irion, a failed tea party congressional candidate, alleged that Barack Obama was ineligible to be president because he was not a “natural-born citizen.”

The judge wrote in his sanction of the Liberty Legal Foundation that the group had no legal standing to bring the suit, calling the claims “frivolous and without any arguable basis in law.”

“As such, counsel for Plaintiff has multiplied the proceedings in this case unreasonably and vexatiously and should therefore be required to satisfy personally the attorneys’ fees reasonably incurred by Defendants because of such conduct,” Judge Anderson wrote.

Gerard Stranch, an attorney for the Tennessee Democratic Party, a defendant in the suit, said defendants have 21 days to file an application for attorney’s fees and costs to be expended due to having the case dismissed.

“We are happy with the result and hope this brings an end to the ongoing litigation over President Obama’s qualifications,” Stranch said.

The Democratic Party, the DNC, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Tennessee Democratic Party and TNDP Chairman Chip Forrester were named in defendants in the suit filed by the Liberty Legal Foundation, John Dummett, Leonard Volodarsky and Creg Maroney.

Press Releases

Ramsey Touts Accomplishments Under Republican-Controlled State Government

Statement by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; May 18, 2012:

Dear Friend,

Earlier this month, the 107th General Assembly concluded its business.

My goals for this legislature were the same ones I had when first elected: give the people of Tennessee what they have asked for: more jobs, less spending and smaller government.

Now, with partners like Governor Bill Haslam and Speaker Beth Harwell, we have truly been moving the conservative ball forward. I have often said that it matters who governs. Over the past two years, we have proved why.

In our first year of unified Republican government, we put conservative principles into action by instituting landmark education reform, tax cuts and smaller government.

This year we again heeded the call of voters to make government smaller, more efficient and customer friendly. These are things I have championed throughout my career in the legislature.  But now, with a Republican Governor and Speaker of the House, we have become a transformational force for good government in Tennessee.

Representing the People

This General Assembly worked diligently and efficiently to get our work done on time – adjourning earlier than at any point in the last 14 years and using the least amount of legislative days since 1984.

This achievement not only saves considerable taxpayer dollars it restores the great virtues of our citizen legislature. To those who have only observed Tennessee politics for the last few decades it might appear the legislature got out “early” by adjourning in early May. This is a common misconception I intend to erase. We got out on time. Period.

Tennessee does not have a full-time legislature and, if I have anything to do with it, we never will. By allowing session to drag on into June or July year after year our Democrat predecessors succeeded only in creating more government and allowing the people’s representatives to get farther and farther away from their constituents. It is almost impossible to represent people with whom you are only tangentially connected or a community in which you only nominally reside.

Legislators should do the business the people ask of them in Nashville – and get back home. The cause of small, efficient and responsive government requires it.

Shrinking government and cutting taxes

This year, the state of Tennessee is budgeted to spend $31.1 billion – nearly $1 billion less than our current operating budget. These are real cuts, not the phantom cuts of Washington where removing anticipated increases in spending counts as a cut.

Tennessee budgeted conservatively this year. We worked with revenue that we actually had rather than “projected” revenue we “expected” to have. We balanced this budget much like you and your family balance your own. Unified Republican government did away with the gimmicky accounting of the past and relied on tangible revenue numbers.

Not only did we shrink government, we returned money to the taxpayers. We gave every Tennessean tax relief by again reducing the food tax – reductions previous Democrat regimes refused to make.

We also set a course for the ultimate elimination of the death tax – a tax that punishes small farmers and businessmen seeking to provide for the next generation.

Tennessee plunged a stake into the heart of this insidious tax that attacks the very essence of the American Dream. Unlike Washington, Tennessee plans for the future and encourages those in our citizenry to do likewise. I am proud that this General Assembly was the one that finally brought the death tax before the reaper.

Coupled with the elimination of the gift tax, this General Assembly cut taxes by more than $50 million this year, resulting in the release of capital and the creation of jobs.

Tennessee Republicans used to be limited in what we could do. Operating under a Democrat Governor and House Speaker, my office had to play defense against Big Government Democrats leaving across the board conservative governance as merely a dream for some future place and time. That place is here and that time is now.

Now, we have the numbers to enact our conservative principles. And with your help we will enlarge our majority so that no one stands in the way of true conservative government ever again.

Reforming State Government

One of our most transformative legislative achievements this session was the passage of Gov. Haslam’s TEAM Act. A revolutionary step in state government, the TEAM Act will help us attract, retain and promote the best applicants and employees in state government. Excellence will now be rewarded when it is achieved, just as it is in the private sector.

This year also marked the passage of our major unemployment insurance reform. Republicans heard the clamor and saw the need for legislation that results in job creation and we filled the void.

The Unemployment Accountability Act of 2012 strengthens the definition of employee misconduct to ensure that those who have been fired for cause no longer receive benefits. We instituted new work search requirements for unemployment beneficiaries, encouraging the use of existing state infrastructure to help return the unemployed to the job market.

Nothing cures both economic and social ills like a good job. Having a job doesn’t just fulfill a man or woman’s economic need but their spiritual need as well. It bestows upon them a sense of self-worth which permeates all aspects of life.

This reform will be a boon not only for job creators by protecting them from fraud and abuse – it also aids job seekers by pushing them towards the job market.

Another important piece of the Republican job creation package was our “loser pays” tort reform. Businesses don’t mind taking risks but they have to be calculated ones. “Loser pays” will free employers from the time and cash consuming drudgery of frivolous lawsuits and allow them to do what they do best: employ people.

The fight against addiction

This General Assembly has also taken on crime passing bills attacking domestic violence, criminal gangs and drugs.

Most important to me is the fight against synthetic drugs, which have become an epidemic in Northeast Tennessee. Many lives have been lost due to this scourge and I was proud to be part of the team fashioning a solution. Bills passed in this General Assembly banned chemical compounds used in illegal synthetic drugs, no matter how criminal chemists continue to modify them  Our new measure will keep the law ahead of the drug pushers.

We also began a program to drug test those receiving government assistance.  This will end the taxpayer subsidy of illegal drugs. We as a society are never going to prevent every motivated user from consuming drugs – but we certainly don’t have to pay for it.

This is why we constructed a constitutionally sound bill that will allow us to remove drug users from the welfare rolls while offering them help. This protects taxpayers and attacks addiction. It is a win-win for Tennessee.

Protecting citizenship

While we continue to implement our new Photo ID law protecting citizenship at the ballot box, we have taken further steps to protect the rights of citizens.

While I’m a conservative who believes in personal responsibly and limited government, we as a society do need to provide some sort of safety net.  However, that net must be for citizens only. That is why I aided passage this session of the Eligibility Verification Act.  It ensures that only those in the United States legally receive any taxpayer-funded benefit.

Again, this is common sense but it was left undone by our Democrat predecessors.

Tax cuts, smaller government and job creation – this is conservative government in action. It is what Tennesseans asked for and it is what Tennessee shall get as long as you allow me to serve as Lt. Governor.

I humbly appreciate the support of all Tennesseans as the legislature continues to work hard to make Tennessee the best state in the nation in which to live, work and raise a family.


Ronald L. Ramsey

Lieutenant Governor

Speaker of the Senate


Featured Liberty and Justice News Transparency and Elections

Lt. Guv: TN AG Should Back AZ

Ron Ramsey is making another run at convincing the Tennessee attorney general to defend a state-level legislative prerogative against interference by the federal government.

During the Tennessee General Assembly’s regular session earlier this year, Ramsey tried unsuccessfully to persuade state Attorney General Robert Cooper to join a number of other states in challenging elements of the federal health-care overhaul that Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration pushed through last winter.

On Friday, Ramsey — a Blountville Republican seeking to become the GOP’s pick next month to run against Democrat Mike McWherter in the November general election — urged Cooper to file a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Arizona’s new crackdown on illegal-immigrants, scheduled to take effect July 29.

Tennessee lawmakers approved two immigration-related bills earlier this year. One was a joint resolution in the House of Representatives congratulating Arizona for passing the new illegal immigration law. The other allows local law enforcement to verify a suspect or inmate’s citizenship status and report illegal aliens to the federal government.

The U.S. Justice Department announced a few weeks ago that it will challenge the Arizona law, which allows state and local police to check for citizenship status while enforcing other laws — including minor traffic violations — if there is a reasonable suspicion that an individual is illegally in the country.

Justice department lawyers say the federal government, not the states, is solely responsible for enforcing the country’s immigration policies.  A U.S. attorney told a federal judge during a hearing on the matter in Phoenix Thursday that “regulation of immigration is unquestionably, exclusively, a federal power.”

Ramsey and other Tennessee politicians who say they support Arizona’s efforts argue that indeed it is the federal government’s job to control movement of foreigners into the United States. But the feds are failing to live up to that responsibility, they say, and therefore the states have been put in the position of having to take enforcement matters into their own hands.

“This is just another symptom of the disease that the federal government, not only in this case, is paying no attention to the citizens but its actually suing the citizens of the United States, suing Arizona for simply enforcing the law,” Ramsey told reporters during a press conference Friday morning.

Illegal immigration is as important to Tennessee as it is to Arizona, Ramsey added. Tennessee highways act as a corridor for those immigrants to pass through and opens the state up to potential drug trafficking, said the lieutenant governor.

Nine other states have filed amicus briefs weighing in on the case.

“We rarely, if ever, use resources to participate in a trail court proceeding in another state,” Cooper wrote in an emailed statement. “Like most other Attorneys General, we are watching the case closely without actively participating, and we expect that the trial court in this matter will provide valuable legal analysis and insight.”


Legislature Abandoned Bills In Conference Committee

Lawmakers spent the last two years introducing almost 8,000 pieces of legislation, probably well aware that all but a fraction would die quietly, with little debate at all.

Others stood a chance but perished because they lacked solid support while trickling through the legislative process. Some died in legislative committees and others failed on the House or Senate floor.

But four bills this year died simply because House and Senate lawmakers failed to find common ground between the two separate versions passed by each chamber.

They were only a compromise away in a six-member “conference committee” from being agreed upon in the Legislature. But they were caught up when committee delegates from the House and Senate couldn’t hammer out agreements.

Those bills included requiring potential voters to prove their citizenship and allowing judges with handgun permits to carry their weapons like police officers.

Roughly one out of every eight bills became law this past session. As of this posting, 1,044 bills were signed into law during the 106th General Assembly. The total number of bills and resolutions filed was 7,955 during the two-year period the General Assembly met.

When lawmakers walked out of the the Capitol Building during the wee hours of June 10, they left behind them HB270. The measure was supposed to require new voters show proof of citizenship.

House members easily approved the measure 92-1, but rejected the Senate’s amendment requiring citizens to provide a drivers license number, a legible copy of a birth certificate, copies of passport documents, naturalization documents or any other paperwork to prove an individual is a U.S. citizen. The Senate voted 20-12 for the measure.

Both chambers appointed members to the conference committee, but the group never reported back with a compromise.

Sen. Dewayne Bunch, a sponsor of the bill, said the committee met for over an hour on the issue, but he couldn’t convince enough House members in the small group to go along with their changes — which had since become “the heart of the bill.”

“I saw it as a way to place tools in the tool box for election administrators,” said the Cleveland Republican. “Two members didn’t see it that way.”

Another bill that died in the conference committee was HB82, which authorizes current and retired judges with a handgun permit to carry their firearm under the same circumstances as police or correctional officers. Lawmakers took up the bill last year but never revisited it during the 2010 spring session.

Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, said he carried the bill for a judge who said he is sometimes threatened. But opponents said they weren’t comfortable with a judge bringing a gun in the courtroom.

The measure was then assigned to a conference committee, but the group never met, said Shaw. He said he pushed the issue to the back burner and never picked it up again.

House bill 2593 was also sitting in a conference committee when legislators adjourned sine die. The measure would have renewed the Board of Examiners of Architects and Engineers.

It was one of 19 boards that were not extended this year because House and Senate members couldn’t agree on changes to how top government officials appoint members to serve on those and other boards. However, the House bill was the only one to be assigned to a full conference committee. In most cases, the House created one but Senate opted not to.

A final bill that died in a conference committee, SB2418, was a nuts and bolts piece of legislation regarding the rules used to implement state laws.

The Senate measure would have erased a section of state code that was mistakenly left behind last year when it rewrote an act on rule-making.

In the House, lawmakers made changes to how rules are reviewed. The legislation insisted that issues relative to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act — which governs rule making — be vetted in standing committees before going to the House and Senate Government Operations committees.

Sen. Bo Watson, a Hixson Republican who chairs his chamber’s gov-ops committee, said the Senate couldn’t approve that bill without violating its own set of rules that dictates a bill’s committee assignments.

Passing the Senate version wasn’t critical this year, he said, but he’ll take the issue up again in 2011.

“The best thing to do is drop back, punt, write the caption a little tighter and fix the area that we intended to fix with this bill,” he said.

House sponsor and House Government Operations Chairwoman, Rep. Susan Lynn, said she was disappointed her version didn’t pass. It also would have changed the way new occupational license requirements are vetted in order to allow affected workers to to give feedback, said the Mt. Juliet Republican, adding that the current system “creates suspicion among the general public.”

Although the House and Senate both appointed members to the conference committee, the group never met.

Legislators have now adjourned for the year and say it’s unlikely that they will be back before the new General Assembly is sworn in next January. At that point, legislators will have to begin introducing a brand new set bills and will not be able to resurrect any of the dead ones.