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