Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Terrill Says English Only Lawsuit Is Frivolous

Rep. Randy Terrill today said the filing of a lawsuit to block implementation of Official English is just another example of frivolous litigation promoted by fringe groups.

“Since Official English passed with the largest margin of any state question, it is clearly the will of an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of voters,” said Terrill, a Moore Republican who authored the Official English measure.

“This is just another frivolous lawsuit filed by a liberal law professor trying to forum shop for a judge willing to thwart the will of the people. I believe this bogus lawsuit will not succeed, and the democratic will of the people of Oklahoma will not be undermined by judicial activism.”

State Question 751, which made English the official language of state government, received the support of 75.5 percent of voters on November 2, the largest level of support for any state question.

Terrill noted that 30 other states and more than 50 nations already have Official English laws, and that some occupations such as aviation have long been Official English professions.

“Official English is not new, novel or unique,” Terrill said. “This is simply a common-sense measure that has been embraced across the country and around the globe.”

The new law only applies to official actions of the state and does not impact private communication between individuals or businesses or Native American languages.

Terrill said the passage of official English protects Oklahoma from being compelled to provide government services in any of the 300-plus languages now spoken in the U.S., and therefore avoids the costs, conflicts and burdens associated with multilingualism. It’s estimated the state would have to spend up to $50,000 per language per year for driver’s license tests, and the state was recently legally threatened for not providing drivers’ tests in Farsi, the dominant language of Iran.

“At a time of budget shortfall when areas like education and public safety are facing cuts, this lawsuit would directly and needlessly reduce funding for our classrooms and other important needs,” Terrill said. Most importantly, the Official English law also maintains incentives for immigrants to learn English, assimilate and succeed in the U.S. “Learning English is the key to an immigrant’s success,” Terrill said. “The more proficient you are in English, the greater your civic participation and earning potential. It is truly unfortunate that some elements of our society would try to actively undermine efforts to help legal immigrants to assimilate and succeed in Oklahoma.”

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