Renowned Appellate Lawyer To Argue Tennessee Refugee Resettlement Case For The Thomas More Law Center

March 13th, 2019

   ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national nonprofit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced today that nationally prominent appellate lawyer John Bursch will represent the state of Tennessee and its General Assembly on March 19 before a 3-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  

   The Thomas More Law Center was retained by the Tennessee General Assembly in March 2017 to file a first-of-its-kind Tenth Amendment lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal refugee resettlement program. The federal government has violated state sovereignty by forcing Tennessee to continue paying for the program after Tennessee opted out and exercised its right not to participate. TMLC is appealing after a federal district court judge dismissed the case. The Law Center is representing Tennessee without charge.

   Mr. Bursch, a former Michigan state solicitor general and past chair of the American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers, has an impressive client list ranging from Fortune 500 companies and foreign and domestic governments, to top public officials and industry associations in high-profile cases. His cases frequently involve pressing political and social issues, and five had at least $1 billion at stake.   

   He has argued 11 U.S. Supreme Court cases and obtained summary reversal on three more, compiling a Supreme Court merits record of 10-2-2.  He has also argued 30 cases in state supreme courts, and dozens more in federal and state appellate courts across the country. A recent study included John on its “veritable who’s who of Supreme Court litigators” list.

   Although Tennessee officially withdrew from participation in the federal refugee resettlement program in 2007, the federal government continues to commandeer state tax dollars to fund the federal program.

   Tennessee has a history of supporting the Tenth Amendment and state sovereignty.  In 2009, House Joint Resolution 108, which passed in the Senate 31-0 and in the House by 85-2, demanded that the federal government halt its practice of imposing mandates on the states for purposes not enumerated by the U.S. Constitution.

   Richard Thompson, TMLC President and Chief Counsel, commented: “John’s integrity, outstanding litigation skills, and impressive record on appeals prompted me to ask him to join our fight.  I can’t think of anyone more qualified to represent Tennessee and the constitutional principles involved in this case.”

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