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Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly

Abstract

This Note addresses a significant but rarely examined issue concerning whether a state may constitutionally require the exclusive use of the English language by its employees while performing official acts on behalf of the State. The Note focuses on the approach employed by the Ninth Circuit in determining the constitutionality of Article XXVIII of Arizona's Constitution, arguably the most restrictive of the state provisions regulating language rights, in the recent decision of Yniguez v. Arizonans for Official English. The Note concludes that not only did the majority misapply the overbreadth and public employee speech doctrines, it subsequently failed to identify what type of speech language rights fall into and what level of scrutiny English-only provisions must meet. While recognizing the inherent difficulty in categorizing language rights within the public employee speech doctrine, the Note suggests that either the proper application of the overbreadth doctrine or a reformulation of speech classifications within public employee speech doctrine present more consistent resolutions of English-only issues.

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