Thirteen states have joined together to file an amicus brief in support of President Trump’s travel ban, but Tennessee is not among them.
The friend of the court brief was filed Monday in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It defends Trump’s revised Executive Order 13780 temporarily barring citizens of six Middle Eastern countries-Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Yemen and Libya-from entering the U.S, and temporarily stopping the arrival of refugees from any country.
A spokesman for Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery told The Tennessee Star that “our office does not typically discuss legal strategy.”
“This matter is in the very early stage of litigation and not joining an amicus brief is not necessarily an indication of lack of support,” said spokesman Harlow Sumerford.
Signing the amicus brief were attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia. Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi also joined.
Alabama and Texas have filed lawsuits against the federal government to end the resettlement of refugees in their states on grounds of failure to comply with the consultation clause of the Refugee Act of 1980.
Earlier this month, Tennessee filed a lawsuit against the federal government to end the resettlement of refugees in the Volunteer State on the grounds that it is a violation of the Tenth Amendment, in that it forces Tennessee taxpayers to pay more than $165 million a year. The program, the state argues, is an unfunded federal mandate.
Attorney General Slatery declined to bring the lawsuit on behalf of the Tennessee General Assembly and the State of Tennessee, which is instead represented in the case by the Thomas More Law Center, a non-profit public interest law firm that is providing its services at no cost to the state.
On March 15, two U.S. district judges in Maryland and Hawaii issued temporary restraining orders halting the implementation of Executive Order 13780. However, a U.S. district judge in Virginia denied a request to do the same.
The amicus brief says that the plaintiffs’ claims in the Maryland case are no match for the clear authority a president has to restrict travel from other countries. The plaintiffs include immigration and refugee activists. The 4th Circuit will hear oral arguments in the Maryland case on May 8.
“Their theory calls for an extraordinary extension of constitutional rights to nonresident aliens who are outside this country and attempting to enter the country,” the amicus brief says. “Nonresident aliens who are in foreign territory clearly not under the sovereign control of the United States do not possess rights under the United States Constitution regarding entry into this country.”
The brief also asserts that the ban is not a religious one as critics allege. It is based on national security and focuses on countries identified by Congress and the former Obama administration as being among “countries of concern,” the brief says.
The brief notes that before Trump took office, multiple federal officials – including the FBI director, the former assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division and the former Director of National Intelligence – expressed concerns about the ability to vet people coming into the U.S.