english only passes in utah

Dennis Baron debaron at NTX1.CSO.UIUC.EDU
Wed Nov 8 15:36:15 UTC 2000

FYI, from today's Salt Lake Tribune on-line edition:

It's Official: English Only, ACLU considers legal challenge; voters pass
seizure, sale restriction
 Wednesday, November 8, 2000


    Utah became the 26th state to declare English as its official language
as voters approved a measure lawmakers had failed to pass on three previous
    Only one county voted down Initiative A -- San Juan.
    Utahns also passed Initiative B, forbidding police and prosecutors from
seizing and selling property involved in a crime in which the owner is not
    Joe Hunter, spokesman for Utahns for Official English, acknowledged the
campaign had been "somewhat controversial and at times emotional, perhaps
more than it should have been. The voters saw the initiative for what it is:
A much simpler and much more common sense measure than some of the opponents
made it out to be."
    The measure received strong opposition from several politicians, civic
groups, church leaders and educators.
    The law requires government business to be conducted in English, with
exceptions for tourism, health, law enforcement and court proceedings, in
schools, universities and libraries. It also encourages the state to
initiate and expand English as a Second Language programs to help
    Before the election, there was still much uncertainty over what its
impact would be.
    Opponents say the law will prevent non-English speakers from obtaining
vital government services and will make them feel like second-class
    "We're not terribly surprised, but we are terribly disappointed," said
Lorna Vogt, of Utah Common Voices. Her group, comprising 80 organizations
who opposed the measure, couldn't overcome the vast resources of U.S.
English, the national group that got the measure on the ballot in Utah.
Since 1998, when U.S. English starting gathering signatures, the lobbying
and research group has outspent its opponents almost 7 to 1, or $282,190 vs.
    Vogt also said voters didn't understand the measure.
    "They had it in their minds that it was a very simple gesture that
seemed to make sense on the surface," she said.
    The Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union will "likely"
file a lawsuit, claiming violation of equal protection and freedom of
speech, Utah's ACLU director Carol Gnade said. . . . [rest of article is on
another, unrelated ballot proposal]

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Dennis Baron, Head                       debaron at uiuc.edu
Department of English                            217-333-2390
University of Illinois                          fax: 217-333-4321
608 S. Wright St.      http://www.english.uiuc.edu/baron
Urbana, IL 61801

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