The colors orange and white may come to mind when you think of Tennessee, but this week the Tennessee government is showing their true colors in an effort to protect their constitutional rights: red, white, and blue.

When faced with an order to accept refugees, the Tennessee Senate instead decided to pursue a lawsuit against the federal government for constitutional infringement of their state rights. The Tennessean shares their story of constitutional revolt:

The Tennessee state Senate on Monday approved a resolution directing the state attorney general to sue the federal government for noncompliance of the Refugee Act of 1980.

With a 27-5 vote, the resolution, according to its proponents, seeks to settle a quandary created after Tennessee opted out of the refugee resettlement program in 2008 under then-Gov. Phil Bredesen.

…The Senate resolution seeks to challenge the state’s resettlement effort in court. It would ensure that Tennessee is the third state to sue the federal government over the matter but the first state to do so on the grounds of the 10th Amendment.

The 10th Amendment states that the federal government possesses only powers delegated to it by the U.S Constitution and that all other powers are reserved for the states.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, the sponsor of the measure, argued that it is necessary because the federal government has failed to consult with Tennessee on the placement of refugees. Norris said the feds also have shifted the cost of administering the program to the state without lawmakers specifically authorizing the appropriation of funds, he said….“I’m arguing the rights of citizens and sovereignty in Tennessee,” he explained.

While many senators stood in support of the measure, two Democrats — Sens. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, and Lee Harris, D-Memphis — questioned Norris while expressing opposition.

Tennessee is not a state you want to mess with, but the Federal government decided to press their luck (a plan which backfired miserably):

“We are the Volunteer State, but we are not the volunteered state,” said Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, while pointing out the federal government cannot simply tell the state that it has to spend taxpayer dollars through a program which it opted out.

Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, said the resolution is simply about standing up to the federal government.

“There is no bright line test to tell when the federal government has exceeded its authority,” he said. “I feel it’s important that we do protect the taxpayers of the state of Tennessee as we’re sworn to do.”

States, governments, and legislators like those in the Tennessee Senate will make a difference in our nation.  They are so rooted in the constitution, so sure of what it stands for and who it protects, that they refuse to let the bully that is the federal government come in and bulldoze their beliefs.

Let their actions be an example to patriots across the nation — we have the ability, power and backing to stand against the federal government.

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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