Old Wives' Tales
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Claim: E-mail lists senators who "voted against making English the official language of America."
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]
Amendment 4064, proposed on
The Government of the United States shall preserve and enhance the role of English as the national language of the United States of America. Unless otherwise authorized or provided by law, no person has a right, entitlement, or claim to have the Government of the United States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services, or provide materials in any language other than English. If exceptions are made, that does not create a legal entitlement to additional services in that language or any language other than English. If any forms are issued by the Federal Government in a language other than English (or such forms are completed in a language other than English), the English language version of the form is the sole authority for all legal purposes.In other words, this amendment declared that the federal government had no obligation to provide documents or services in any language other than English; that if the federal government did choose to provide some documents or services in any language other than English, they were not
This amendment was passed the next day by a vote of
The issue became even more complicated when, half an hour after amendment 4064 was passed, the Senate voted on amendment 4073. This amendment sought to "Declare that English is the common and unifying language of the United States, and to preserve and enhance the role of the English language." The relevant section of the amendment (as passed) read as follows:
The Government of the United States shall preserve and enhance the role of English as the common and unifying language of America. Nothing herein shall diminish or expand any existing rights under the law of the United States relative to services or materials provided by the Government of the United States in any language other than English.In other words, this amendment contradicted the previously passed amendment by declaring that English was to be regarded as "the common and unifying language of America" (rather than the "national language of the United States of America"), and that whatever obligations the federal government had to provide or honor documents and services in languages other than English should remain unchanged. This amendment also passed, by a vote of
For the purposes of this section, law is defined as including provisions of the United States Code and the United States Constitution, controlling judicial decisions, regulations, and controlling Presidential Executive Orders.
According to the 2000 United States Census, 18% of the
Last updated: 14 September 2006
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