‘Tennessee Stands’ Files Lawsuit Claiming Statute Deeming Governor’s Executive Orders Having Full Force and Effect of Law Unconstitutional


Citizens for Limited Government and Constitutional Integrity, Inc. doing business as Tennessee Stands filed a lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court Monday against Governor Bill Lee on the grounds that the state statute deeming the governor’s executive orders have the full force and effect of law is unconstitutional.

Tennessee Stands founder and president Gary Humble (pictured right) along with Rodney Lunn, the plaintiffs in the case, reference Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.) 58-2-107 which dates back to 2000.

The law states, in part:

(a) (1) The governor is responsible for addressing the dangers presented to this state and its people by emergencies. In the event of an emergency beyond local control, the governor, or, in the governor’s absence, the governor’s successor as provided by law, may assume direct operational control over all or any part of the emergency management functions within this state, and such person has the power through proper process of law to carry out this chapter. The governor is authorized to delegate such powers as the governor may deem prudent. (emphasis added)

(2) Pursuant to the authority vested in the governor under subdivision (a) (1), the governor may issue executive orders, proclamations, and rules and may amend or rescind them. Such executive orders, proclamations, and rules have the force and effect of law. (emphasis added)

As the complaint states, it is under this law that the governor “has delegated unlimited power to municipalities and county executives via numerous executive orders.”

The plaintiffs, residents of Williamson County and subject to the delegated authority of the governor, allege the delegation of power is “illegal and unconstitutional and must be declared void,” no matter how well-intentioned it may have been.

The constitutionality of T.C.A. 58-2-107 is being challenged on the grounds that it violates several Articles and Sections of the Tennessee Constitution.

Article II, Section 1 states, “The powers of the government shall be divided into three distinct departments:  legislative, executive, and judicial.”

Section 2 goes on to state, “No person or persons belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any of the powers properly belonging to either of the others, except in the cases herein directed or permitted.”

Section 3, under Legislative Department, defines “The Legislative authority of this state shall be vested in a General Assembly, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives, both dependent on the people.”

“The authority to make laws rests solely with the General Assembly, not the Governor,” the complaint states.  Additionally, the Legislature cannot delegate its power to another department pursuant to the strict mandates in the Tennessee Constitution.

Article III describes the Executive Department and, while it authorizes no law-making power, Section 10 requires that the governor “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Further, there is no constitutional authority for the Governor to delegate powers to county executives/mayors for their issuance of public health orders such as mask mandates, under threat of citation, arrest and incarceration.

Article VII, Section 1 of the Tennessee Constitution defines that “The qualified voters of each county shall elect for terms of four years a legislative body, a county executive, a sheriff, a trustee, a register, a county clerk and an assessor of property.  Their qualifications and duties shall be prescribed by the General Assembly.” (emphasis added)

Humble covered much of the material in the complaint on the Tennessee Stands website through two videos, a preamble and a resolution he created to inform Tennessee citizens of their constitutional rights and to defend against governmental overreach.

Humble has been gathering petition signatures in support of the resolution, and announced Sunday on Facebook that over 1,000 signatures had been achieved.

Humble told The Tennessee Star that he is just a dad, husband and citizen of Tennessee who sees that no one else is fighting for his constitutional rights.

“I’d much rather be in a cabin in the woods with my boys and my wife, and not doing this,” Humble told The Star, “but it is what it is.”

From memory, Humble went on to quote Section 2 of Article I, Declaration of Rights, “That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.”

With an obvious fondness for the document, Humble said that in 1796 when the Tennessee Constitution was first drafted, Thomas Jefferson said that it was the least imperfect and the most republican of all the state constitutions at the time.

Tennessee’s Constitution was revised in 1834 and again in 1870 after the Civil War and remained unchanged until 1953, making it the longest-standing, unamended Constitution in the U.S., Humble relayed.

Humble isn’t the only one to call out state law that put the governor in a position to violate citizens’ constitutional rights.

When the legislature came back into session in June after the two-month COVID-19 recess, Rep. Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport) sponsored an amendment to his HB 2291 filed for another purpose prior to the recess.

In his folksy but eloquent speech that caught a lot of attention, Hulsey said he thought the legislature had done the governor wrong by setting up the system for the governor to operate in.

Hulsey pointed out that his amendment “doesn’t fix all the mess that we created for the governor.”

Rather, “It strips out the fascism out of the three most egregious constitutional areas,” said Hulsey.

His legislation stated simply, “The governor or the chief executive officer of a local government shall not require a law enforcement agency or an officer thereof to enforce a provision of an executive order: (1) Requiring a private business entity to close; (2) Restricting the freedom to assemble peaceably; or (3) Restricting the freedom to travel.”

While Hulsey’s measure passed its first step in the House State Committee, it never made it to the House floor and the Senate never took it up in committee.

While the topic of the governor’s executive powers was not included in his proclamation for the Second Extraordinary Session of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly, the Speakers of the Senate and House established a Joint Ad Hoc Committee to Study Emergency Powers.

In its first of three meetings, the committee heard expert testimony last Thursday on Governor Lee’s executive orders throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Retired Tennessee Supreme Court Justice and president and dean of Nashville School of Law William C. Koch, Jr. said Governor Bill Lee’s executive orders are entirely consistent with the inherent power in his office and granted to him in state statute.

What Koch did not address was whether the statute itself was constitutional.

In Humble’s opinion, “When no one talks about the Constitution, there’s a reason for that.”

Tennessee Stands full complaint can be read here.

Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.





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10 Thoughts to “‘Tennessee Stands’ Files Lawsuit Claiming Statute Deeming Governor’s Executive Orders Having Full Force and Effect of Law Unconstitutional”

  1. Carolyn Chesnutt

    I have many objections to vaccines, and religious convictions are a major force. Please keep working to give us religious exemptions to mandatory vaccines. Thank you for all the work you do.

    Carolyn, Attorney at Law

  2. Sim

    I personally think some kind of criteria should be established as to what constitutes an “Emergency”.

    From the start, Covid deaths never justified an “Emergency” or “Pandemic”.

    The normal yearly flu kills more people than Covid, which is why there are so many false reports of Test and death by covid, they are trying to justify a pandemic where one NEVER existed,
    So you have to ask the question “WHY”.

    Bill Gates and his “population control by vaccination” along with “MANDATORY VACCINATION” is why this “LIE” is being pushed on people.

    Like Hitler and the Nazis, Bill Gate want to “Tatto” everyone with a chemical Luciferase for ID2020, and the older generation killed off, (NY city nursing homes ) and the younger generation sterilized (Kenya, 500,000) until the world’s population is reduced by 15% , or 1 Billion and 500 million people.

    Like the Aborted Babies, Democrats and Gates have no more respect for human life than Hilter and the Nazis did for Jews.

    Is the Governor Lee going to issue a Mandatory vaccination order for a pandemic that never existed,

    or is he going to delegate that power out to the local authorities???

    Massachusetts and Virginia are already issuing mandatory vaccinations.

    That proverbial stuff is going to hit the fan when they try it with me or my family.

    1. 83ragtop50

      I am with you. No forced vaccine for my family.

  3. Jim

    Great article, great comments! The bottom line is that politicians, from both sides of the aisle, have been eroding the provisions of the “contract” that “We the People” originally agreed to. They’ve lost sight of the fact that they work for us!

    Government is only allowed to occupy the space that we originally granted them. When it moves out beyond of the “fences”, it’s time for us to get out the “cattle prod”!

  4. Ralph

    Excellent report with valuable links – thank you.

    Not to detract one iota from this noble effort, which I do support, but, in general, I am unimpressed with petitions, rallies, and so on insofar as they are not an end in themselves. My years of activism has left me convinced that such acts, necessary though they may be, are only preliminary acts; ultimately, it has to come down to a lawsuit and/or calls for impeachment. However, the organization that goes behind a petition, or rally, and the body of support you build in that process, is invaluable.

    And this is not the first such effort, not by long shot. As the Governor began his flurry of executive orders, a petition was developed and directed at Governor Lee calling for the end to this epidemic of fear, penned by a practicing physician and surgeon in Knoxville – it garnered almost 3200 signatures, several other MD’s as well – crickets.

    A seated state representative penned a letter to the state AG, inquiring about the constitutionality of the emergency powers act, writ large, under which the Governor was issuing his edicts – crickets.

    Since March, dozens of emails directed to elected officials at all levels, pointing to a body of medical evidence that demonstrates that this is a contrived “crisis”, that the mortality is roughly equivalent to that of seasonal influenza, and that the fear mongering is far, far more harmful than the virus – crickets.

    But here’s the thing – no staffer ever tripped over a bag of email – signed letters are better, but even better still is when you deliver those letters in person, as a group, in solidarity. A coordinated effort with multiple counties presenting across the sate, simultaneous.

    This organization would do well to consider two issues: 1. What efforts, if any, have they made to coordinate with, and build upon, those previous efforts, et al, and, if so, what has been the result; and, 2. What efforts, if any, have been made to organize at the county level with the objective to physically present themselves, en masse, before their elected representatives.

    1. Vicky

      I appreciate your view on this and agree that until the public actually puts the feet to the fire of these “public servants” in person, en mass they will continue to turn a blind eye and ear to their constituents.

  5. John

    If you ever had done any business with Lee Company before Lee’s bid for the Governor’s seat, you would have known what kind of person he really is.

  6. Julie

    I think what this has demonstrated is that there are those within the government and medical community who will use questionable models and data to push a narrative and make this worse than it needed to be for political purposes (and pressure other states and cities to follow suit with their “recommendations”). And quit getting tested, that is how they keep this nonsense going and there is a subset of cases that are false positives anyway. We wouldn’t do this kind of thing for the flu or other respiratory illnesses, and we know the elderly and sick are more at risk of dying from those illnesses as well. Is it Nov. 3rd yet?

    1. Ralph

      Facts are stubborn things. Fight fear with fact:


      How many thousands could have been saved, if not for the arrogance of bureaucrats, politicians, and moneyed interests?:


      1. Going Clear

        Governors & mayors don’t care about facts, that’s pretty evident by now.