Freedom of Speech, in Many Languages

Article excerpt

The anti-immigrant sentiment that is growing in many parts of the United States took a decisive, well-deserved blow recently from a federal appeals court in California. It ruled unconstitutional an Arizona law that said all state business must be conducted only in English. Such laws ignore American history and are blind to the nation's future and the strengths that all of its residents can contribute.

Arizona voters passed the law in 1988 with just 50.5 percent, but court challenges prevented it from taking effect. A U.S. district judge ruled it unconstitutional in 1990, and a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously the same way this month. The opinion by Judge Stephen Reinhardt called the law "unconstitutional in its entirety" because it violates the freedom of speech of public employees and the people they serve. "As we have learned time and again in our history," the ruling said, "the state cannot achieve unity by prescribing orthodoxy. …