Date: Tue, 14 May 1996 21:32:34 -0500

From: Dennis Baron debaron[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UIUC.EDU

Subject: Re: English Only Amendment

Illinois has had an official language since 1923, when American was

declared the language of the state. This law was put through by an

anti-British coalition of Irish and Jewish Chicago pols, who wanted to

express their displeasure at the treatment by the mother country of Ireland

and Palestine.

In 1969 the law was quietly amended to make _English_ the official

language. But it has had no practical effect. It is laws like that of

Arizona, which the US Supreme Court has recently agreed to review, that can

actually be punitive. The AZ law forbids government employees from using

any language other than English in the course of their jobs. It was

declared unconstitutional on 1st amendment grounds by the US Circuit Court.

The Supreme Court will also rule on the broader issue of whether states

can make laws establishing an official language.

Copies of federal legislation currently being considered (the Language of

Government Act and constitutional amendments, together with comments by

supporters and opponents which appear in the Congressional Record, are

available on Thomas, the Library of Congress Web Site. I have just received

a transcript of the hearings held last October on language legislation.



Dennis Baron debaron[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Department of English office: 217-333-2392

University of Illinois fax: 217-333-4321

608 S. Wright Street home: 217-384-1683

Urbana, IL 61801