Arizona requires elected officials to know English – which recently prompted a judge there to kick a Latina candidate off a city council ballot for her lack of proficiency.
No one thinks fluency in English in an English-speaking nation is more important than we do. But the Arizona law is vague and, it seems to us, unenforceable. How much English do you need before you “know” it?
Moreover, the law is misguided. We don’t need ill-defined lingual litmus tests for candidates. What we really need is for all government communications in America to be conducted in English. Bilingualism may feel good, but is capable of keeping people trapped. Generally speaking, to be successful one must speak the language.
The law needs to focus on the language of government, not on subjective, constitutionally questionable value judgments of individuals. That’s the prerogative of the electorate: It should be up to voters to decide whether to elect a representative who doesn’t speak the language.