Judge Delays English-Only From Becoming State Law

Affiliate: ACLU of Utah
December 2, 2000 12:00 am

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SALT LAKE CITY — A district judge here put a temporary halt to Utah’s newly approved “Official English” law on the grounds that the initiative may be in violation of the First Amendment. The measure was to take effect Sunday, December 3.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah along with the Multi-Cultural Legal Center, and a local law firm, Giaque, Crockett, Bendinger & Peterson, challenged the English-Only law on behalf of nine plaintiffs, most of whom are government officials.

According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, the challengers said that the law is so vague that it will impede their ability to communicate with or design programs for non-English speaking constituents. They also said the law could prevent constituents from petitioning the government.

The English-Only initiative requires that all state government business be conducted in English, with some exceptions, such as law enforcement, judicial proceedings and promotion of tourism.

Utah voters passed the Official English law on November 7 by a 2-to-1 margin.

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