Arizona English as the Official Language, Proposition 103 (2006)

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Arizona Proposition 103, also called the English as the Official Language Act, was on the November 7, 2006 election ballot in Arizona as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. It was approved.[1]

Election results

English as the Official Language
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 1,114,273 74%
No391,49726%
Election results from Arizona Elections Department.

Impact

It was approved by the state's voters, making English the official language of the state of Arizona.

Text of measure

The language that appeared on the ballot:

Proposition 103 would replace the existing provision of the Constitution of Arizona with a new provision establishing English as the official language of this state. Representatives of the state or a local government would be required to preserve, protect and enhance the role of English as the official language.

Proposition 103 would require that all official actions of the government be conducted in English. Official actions include actions on behalf of the government that appear to present the position of the government or that bind the government. The proposition specifies situations in which state or local government could act in a language other than English, including:

1. When required by federal law or when necessary to preserve the right to petition the government.

2. In teaching languages other than English, or in using or preserving Native American languages.

3. In actions to protect the public health and safety, including law enforcement and emergency services, or to protect the rights of crime victims and criminal defendants.

4. Providing assistance to hearing impaired or illiterate persons.

5. In informal or nonbinding communications or translations among or between government officials and the public.

6. For actions necessary for tourism, commerce or international trade.

Proposition 103 would prohibit discrimination against a person because the person uses English in any public or private communication.

Proposition 103 also would allow a person who resides or does business in Arizona to enforce this new constitutional requirement in court. However, a person shall not file an action under this section unless the person has notified the attorney general of the alleged violation and the attorney general or other appropriate representative of government has not provided appropriate relief within a reasonable time under the circumstances. If the person is successful, they may be awarded costs and reasonable attorney fees.[2]

Supporting Arguments

The Honorable Russell Pearce, Arizona House of Representatives, Mesa wrote the following.

  • English must be designated the official language of the state of Arizona. President Theodore Roosevelt made the simple observation that "we have one language here and that is the English language." English has always been the primary means of assimilating millions of immigrants into American society. A common language promotes unity and understanding and is as vital to the health of a nation as having a common currency. Had our government catered to each new group of immigrants by using their language instead of English, there would never have been any incentive to truly become Americans. Arizonans must recognize these facts and require that all official government actions be conducted in English. By making English the official language, we also eliminate the wasteful spending used to translate millions of state documents into hundreds of languages, although other languages can still be used in a wide variety of key government functions such as trade and tourism. By making English the official state language we provide an even greater incentive for all immigrants to learn English, become empowered and productive citizens, and participate in society as full Americans.
  • Official English promotes unity.
  • Official English empowers immigrants.
  • Official English is common sense government.
  • The designation of Official English will eliminate the needless duplication of government services in multiple languages. It is not the responsibility of the taxpayer to provide services in the 329 different languages spoken in the United States.

Opposing Arguments

State Rep Steve Gallardo from Phoenix wrote the following argument opposing Prop 103

  • You must answer an important question. Others will judge Arizona for years to come based on your answer.
  • That important question is: Do Arizonans still believe in the principles on which this country was founded? The United States was founded on the principle that by granting people freedom and opportunity, they will work hard to create a better life for themselves and their families.
  • I know Arizonans still value this principle and that is why they will see the following flaws in Proposition 103:
  • That we need to help people learn English, not grandstand, and
  • That Proposition 103 undermines core constitutional First Amendment protections.
  • Arizonans should learn English. Learning English will help them achieve the American dream. However, at this same election, the legislature hypocritically also asks you to vote on another measure (Proposition 300), which restricts the ability of adults to take classes to learn English. We must oppose efforts to make English the official language when we refuse to help people learn the language.
  • The Arizona Supreme Court already spoke to this issue in 1998 when it ruled a similar measure unconstitutional.
  • The Supreme Court said that declaring English as the state's official language deprives people of their fundamental First Amendment rights to access government and deprives government officials of their rights to free speech.
  • Inevitably, someone will challenge Proposition 103, and Arizona taxpayers again will waste money on legal fees.
  • No one is trying to change the language in Arizona or the United States. English will remain the language spoken here regardless of whether Proposition 103 passes. Proposition 103 only serves to divide.
  • The answer to my question is that we do still believe in the core principles of opportunity and freedom. Vote NO on Proposition 103.

Campaign finance

Donors to the campaign for the measure:[3]

  • Yes On 103 HCR 2036: $25,000
  • Total: $25,000

Donors to the campaign against the measure:

  • Campaign For Community Change Oppose Props 100, HCR 2028 102, HCR 2001 103 & 300 SCR 1033: $61,300
  • Total: $61,300

See also

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References

  1. Arizona 2006 election results
  2. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  3. Follow the Money, "Donors"