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Georgia English as Official Language Amendment (2014)

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A Georgia English as Official Language Amendment was not on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Georgia as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure would have declared English as the official language of the State of Georgia. The measure would have further provided that all official state actions be conducted in English, that English be used in all documents, meetings and presentations and prohibited discrimination against those who only speak English.[1]

The amendment was introduced into the Georgia Legislature by State Senator Don Balfour (R-9) as Senate Resolution 1031.[1]

English is already the official language in Georgia due to a statute. This measure would constitutionalize the matter, thus making a future overturn impossible without voter approval or federal judicial involvement.[2]

Text of the measure

The text that would have appeared on the ballot was:

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that English is the official language of the State of Georgia?

( ) YES
( ) NO [3]

—Georgia Legislature, SR 1031, [1]

Support

The measure was sponsored in the state legislature by Sen. Don Balfour (R-9).[1]

Supporters

  • U.S. English, Inc.[4]

Arguments

  • Sen. Don Balfour (R-9) said, "We do grow up in different cultures, but eventually to be productive in the U.S. culture, it's good to speak English. If you're in Korea, I imagine you're gonna speak Korean to do business; well in America in order to business well in America, you probably need to speak English."[2]

Opposition

Opponents

Arguments

  • Jay Bookman, columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said that the amendment would go as far as to "bar state officials from giving the state drivers' license test in any language other than English. (It is currently offered in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese. The road-sign test is given only in English.) That's just flat-out anti-immigrant, legal or otherwise, with no pretense whatsoever about limiting its impact to those here without proper documentation. It's a big "you're not welcome here" sign, and I'm sure it would be viewed that way by executives at the Korea-based Kia Motors and any other multinational corporations thinking about locating here."[5]
  • Helen Ho of the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center said, "This is the kind of thing that would impact every single Georgian. It violates law and it's completely unnecessary. This is the principal form of ID that people carry and we're talking about people that are U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents. How are they going to learn English if they can't drive to an English class? How are they going to survive if they can't drive to a job?"[6]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Georgia Constitution

The proposed amendment needed to be approved by a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the Georgia Legislature to be placed on the ballot.

See also

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External links

References