Tag Archives: herbert slatery

Slatery joins Texas lawsuit over transgender bathroom directive

News release from Tennessee attorney general’s office:
Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today joined Texas and nine other states in filing a lawsuit against the United States Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). This is in direct response to recent actions taken by DOE and DOJ in connection with Title VII and Title IX. In the joint letter referred to as the “Dear Colleague Letter” sent by DOE and DOJ to school districts across the country, DOE and DOJ redefined the term “sex” as a person’s sense of gender identity and placed federal funding at risk for schools whose facilities and programs do not comply with the new definition.

Slatery said, “The Executive Branch has taken what should be a state and local issue [under the Tenth Amendment] and made it a federal issue. Schools that do not conform under the new rules risk losing their federal funding. This is yet another instance of the Executive Branch changing law on a grand scale, which is not its constitutional role. Congress legislates, not the Executive Branch. Our Office has consistently opposed efforts like this to take away states’ rights and exclude the people’s representatives from making these decisions, or at a minimum being able to engage in a notice and comment period under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). As the complaint describes, it is a social experiment implemented by federal departments denying basic privacy rights and placing the burden largely on our children, not adults. Sitting on the sidelines on this issue was not an option.”

In 1964, Congress enacted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, making it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Eight years later, Congress took it a step further with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, expanding those protections to federally funded education programs.

Slatery added, “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of “sex” – defined to be a biological category based principally on male or female anatomy. The Administration is incorrectly interpreting Title IX to include self-proclaimed gender identity. By issuing this change as a “guideline,” DOE and DOJ are sidestepping the APA and infringing on a legal territory reserved for the legislature. Tennessee is initiating this lawsuit with the other states to contest the action for all of these reasons.”

Other states joining in the filing are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Ramsey: AG ready for legal fight over bathrooms

Attorney General Herbert Slatery has promised Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey that he will “wholeheartedly” defend Tennessee school systems against a federal directive on transgender bathroom use, reports the Times-Free Press. That, says Ramsey, means there’s no need for a special legislative session on the matter.

“Herbert Slatery, the attorney general, called me to say we’re going to defend that wholeheartedly,” Ramsey, the Republican Senate speaker, told Bradley County Republicans on Saturday night at their annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada has been canvassing colleagues, seeking support for a possible special session to require Slatery to defend schools sued for violating President Barack Obama’s transgender student policies.

A recent directive from the U.S. Justice and Education departments said students should be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity, not biological sex.

The American Civil Liberties Union-Tennessee fanned conservative Republicans’ ire last week by asking Education Department officials to enforce the directive against Sumner County schools. The ACLU complained the district is not complying with the policy, though Sumner officials say they try to be accommodating.

The Justice Department is suing North Carolina over its law restricting transgender students to bathrooms matching their biological sex.

After the dinner, Ramsey said Slatery told him Friday “he didn’t feel like we needed a special session” to require him to defend Sumner County. He said Slatery is “100 percent on board with it.”

“He feels confident they have statutory authority to [defend a local school system],” Ramsey added.

AP story on Haslam’s grumbling acquiescence to refugee lawsuit

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has decided not to veto a resolution demanding a lawsuit be filed over the federal refugee resettlement program in Tennessee.

The governor announced Friday that despite his concerns about the measure, he was allowing it to go forward without his signature.

“I have constitutional concerns about one branch of government telling another what to do,” Haslam said in a written statement to lawmakers.

Haslam said he had asked state Attorney General Herbert Slatery to clarify whether lawmakers have the authority to hire outside attorneys to represent the state.

Sponsors of the resolution have said that the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan has agreed to represent the state on a refugee lawsuit free of charge if the attorney general declines to sue.
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Womick seeks AG opinion on Durham investigation

State Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, has asked Attorney General Herbert Slatery for a formal legal opinion on the propriety of an investigation into alleged sexual harassment by state Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin.

Womick’s request comes after the appearance of a Breitbart News article questioning the investigation’s legal basis as well as reporting comments from some persons interviewed suggesting the Slatery-led investigation is a fishing expedition. (Previous post HERE.)

Text of the Womick letter to Slatery requesting his opinion is available by clicking on this link: womickletter

Another letter on Obama’s bathroom directive from TN GOP legislators

A day a group of Republican state senators sent a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam urging action against an Obama administration directive on transgender bathrooms, a group of 33 Republican state lawmakers — representatives as well as senators — have sent a similar missive to Attorney General Herbert Slatery. It calls on Slatery to “challenge the legal authority” of the federal government to enforce its directive.

Further, from The Tennessean:

State Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, wrote the new letter and circulated it to her colleagues for signatures. In the letter, she accuses the Obama administration of “mobocracy” and “bullying” to “accommodate students with gender identify disorder at the expense of the mentally healthy enrollment.”

Bowling is up for re-election this year, with one opponent in the August Republican primary and two Democrats running for their party’s nomination in the 16th state senate district, which includes Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, Sequatchie, Van Buren and Warren counties in southeastern Middle Tennessee.

The letter was signed by her and 12 of her Republican colleagues in the Senate and 20 Republicans in the House of Representatives — a minority of the GOP’s 28 state senators and 73 state representatives.

…”Our Office is just as concerned with the joint guidance letter issued by the Education Department and the DOJ as the Governor and many state legislators are. It is the most recent, and all too familiar, example of federal agencies (not Congress) telling states and now universities and local education boards what to do,” Slatery’s office said in a statement.

“We are monitoring the predictable litigation that has resulted. To the extent that our Office can assist and advance the best interests of our State, we will do so.”

Text of the letter available by clicking on this link: Letter to AG Slatery

Legal authority, purpose of Durham investigation questioned

A Breitbart News post by Michael Patrick Leahy says the scope and legal authority of an ongoing investigation by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery into the conduct of State Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin) is being questioned by a number of Tennessee political insiders, attorneys and individuals.

At issue is whether the investigation is a political persecution designed to end the career of a brash, ambitious and effective young conservative legislator, or a legitimate exercise of the powers of the Speaker of the House, Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), and Attorney General Slatery.

Also at issue is whether the investigation is a fishing expedition that has expanded its scope to discover information about the private lives of other state legislators.
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Revised refugee lawsuit legislation advances

A resolution that seeks to require the state to sue the federal government over refugee resettlement passed another key hurdle on Tuesday, says The Tennessean.

With a voice vote, the House State Government Committee approved the measure that seeks to force Attorney General Herbert Slatery to sue the federal government over the Refugee Act of 1980. In the event that Slatery refuses to sue the feds, the resolution includes a provision that would allow the legislature to hire outside counsel.

Proponents of the measure (SJR467) have argued a lawsuit is necessary because the federal government has failed to consult with Tennessee on the continued placement of refugees. In addition they say the feds have shifted the cost of administering the program to the state without lawmakers specifically authorizing the appropriation of funds, while also pointing to security concerns.

Gov. Bill Haslam has said he is not concerned about the safety issue, noting that those who come to the state through the refugee resettlement program are properly screened, while adding that he is concerned that hiring outside counsel could set a bad precedent.

Several opponents of the resolution say it ignores the financial benefits refugees provide the state and indicates the state is unfriendly to those who have fled their country because of persecution.

“We need to continue to be a welcoming place for refugees, for immigrants,” said Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville. “This definitely sends the wrong message.”

Rep. Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, disagreed with Powell’s assessment, saying, “Tennessee, I think, has open arms. We’re not saying that we have closed doors.”

Sanderson said the resolution is simply an attempt to “hold those responsible in Washington accountable.”

Note: The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition contends the new amendment means “the only outside counsel who may take this case will be driven more by extreme ideology than sound legal reasoning and the best interests of Tennesseans.” News release below. Continue reading

State to pay gay marriage lawyers $2M in fees

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has awarded more than $2 million to attorneys who helped gay couples in Tennessee win a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger ruled that the results the lawyers got in the case were “superb and far-reaching” and that they should be entitled to costs and fees. The $2.03 million awarded in legal fees and expenses was 15 percent less than what the attorneys wanted.

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s office had argued that the plaintiffs’ attorneys only deserved $1.1 million because of duplicated work, vague time-keeping and charging for attending news conferences. A Slatery spokesman said he had no comment.

In Michigan, lawyers representing same-sex couples were paid $1.9 million, while the attorneys in Ohio received $1.3 million, and in Kentucky they got $1.1 million.

The Tennessee lawyers who worked for the same-sex couples noted in court filings that they had already given the state a $1 million discount by not charging for more than 400 additional hours of work.

The attorneys worked for three couples who legally married in other states. They sued to challenge Tennessee laws that had banned recognition of their marriages.

Note: Previous post HERE.

Bill penalizes those filing sexual harassment lawsuits — if they lose

Tennessee’s attorney general is pushing a revision in the rules for sexual harassment lawsuits at the same time he is investigating allegations of sexual harassment against Rep. Jeremy Durham, reports The Tennessean.

This law change would specifically apply to people suing a state employee over sexual harassment claims, noted Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart. The Nashville Democrat said the legislation would make it harder than ever for people to seek legal protection in the event they are harassed by a state employee.

“At a time when the Attorney General is tasked with a wide-ranging sexual harassment investigation, it is entirely inappropriate that the Attorney General is also seeking to pass a law that will, for the first time, threaten interns, lobbyists and others working in and around the Legislature with potentially devastating sanctions for pursuing sexual harassment claims,” Stewart said in a statement.

The bill (HB1679) is needed to protect state employees, Attorney General Herbert Slatery argued in a statement.

“The proposed legislation says if (i) the employee is sued individually for acts or omissions in the normal course of performing his or her duties, and (ii) the state employee successfully defends the lawsuit, attorneys’ fees and court costs would be paid by the losing party,” Slatery said in the emailed statement.

“Under those circumstances public servants like school teachers, correctional officers, state troopers, and transportation workers should not have to risk their assets and credit during years of litigation.”

…House Civil Justice Chairman William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, (the sponsor)…. he’s worked with Slatery’s office for months on the bill, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the Attorney General’s current investigation.

…Heather Moore Collins, a Brentwood-based attorney and president of the Tennessee Employment Lawyers Association… (said the bill) would completely kill the process…It’s absurd, it’s just absolutely absurd.”

Note: Here’s a further comment from Slatery, emailed after this post first appeared:
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Senate committee votes for lawsuit over refugees

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A resolution directing Tennessee’s attorney general to mount a legal challenge to the federal refugee resettlement program is headed for a vote in the state Senate.

The Senate Finance Committee voted 9-1 on Tuesday to advance the measure (SJR467) sponsored by Senate Republican leader Mark Norris of Collierville. The measure would have the General Assembly hire its own lawyer if Attorney General Herbert Slatery were to decline to get involved.

The lone vote against the measure came from Republican Sen. Steve Dickerson of Nashville, who said he was concerned that the measure would be perceived as being “unwelcoming.”

Stephanie Teatro, a co-executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, said the measure would have taxpayers foot the bill for what she called “frivolous litigation.”

Note: Slatery, appearing before a separate committee, stopped short of promising to file the lawsuit but declared: “We’re on it. We’re we aware of it. We share the frustration (with the federal government).

For more, see also The Tennessean. An excerpt:
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