To amend title 4, United States Code, to declare English
as the official language of the Government of the United States.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
February 3 (legislative day, January 30), 1995
Mr. Shelby (for himself and Mr. Coverdell) introduced
the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee
on Governmental Affairs
To amend title 4, United States Code, to declare English as the official
language of the Government of the United States.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Language of Government Act of 1995''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND CONSTRUCTION.
(a) Findings.--The Congress finds and declares that--
(1) the United States is comprised of individuals and
groups from diverse ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds;
(2) the United States has benefited and continues to benefit
from this rich diversity;
(3) throughout the history of the Nation, the common thread
binding those of differing backgrounds has been a common language;
(4) in order to preserve unity in diversity, and to prevent
division along linguistic lines, the United States should maintain a language
common to all people;
(5) English has historically been the common language
and the language of opportunity in the United States;
(6) the purpose of this Act is to help immigrants better
assimilate and take full advantage of economic and occupational opportunities
in the United States;
(7) by learning the English language, immigrants will
be empowered with the language skills and literacy necessary to become
responsible citizens and productive workers in the United States;
(8) the use of a single common language in the conduct
of the Federal Government's official business will promote efficiency and
fairness to all people;
(9) English should be recognized in law as the language
of official business of the Federal Government; and
(10) any monetary savings derived by the Federal Government
from the enactment of this Act should be used for the teaching of non-English
speaking immigrants the English language.
(b) Construction.--The amendments made by section 3--
(1) are not intended in any way to discriminate against
or restrict the rights of any individual in the United States;
(2) are not intended to discourage or prevent the use
of languages other than English in any nonofficial capacity; and
(3) except where an existing law of the United States
directly contravenes the amendments made by section 3 (such as by requiring
the use of a language other than English for official business of the Government
of the United States), are not intended to repeal existing laws of the
SEC. 3. ENGLISH AS THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF GOVERNMENT.
(a) In General.--Title 4, United States Code, is amended by adding
at the end the following new chapter:
``CHAPTER 6--LANGUAGE OF THE GOVERNMENT
``161. Declaration of official language of Government.
``162. Preserving and enhancing the role of the official
``163. Official Government activities in English.
``Sec. 161. Declaration of official language of Government
``The official language of the Government of the United
States is English.
``Sec. 162. Preserving and enhancing the role of the
``The Government shall have an affirmative obligation
to preserve and enhance the role of English as the official language of
the United States Government. Such obligation shall include encouraging
greater opportunities for individuals to learn the English language.
``Sec. 163. Official Government activities in English
``(a) Conduct of Business.--The Government shall conduct
its official business in English.
``(b) Denial of Services.--No person shall be denied services,
assistance, or facilities, directly or indirectly provided by the Government
solely because the person communicates in English.
``(c) Entitlement.--Every person in the United States
is entitled to--
``(1) communicate with the Government in English;
``(2) receive information from or contribute information
to the Government in English; and
``(3) be informed of or be subject to official orders
``Sec. 164. Standing
``Any person alleging injury arising from a violation
of this chapter shall have standing to sue in the courts of the United
States under sections 2201 and 2202 of title 28, United States Code, and
for such other relief as may be considered appropriate by the courts.
``Sec. 165. Definitions
``For purposes of this chapter:
``(1) Government.--The term `Government' means all branches
of the Government of the United States and all employees and officials
of the Government of the United States while performing official business.
``(2) Official business.--The term `official business'
means those governmental actions, documents, or policies which are enforceable
with the full weight and authority of the Government, but does not include--
``(A) teaching of foreign languages;
``(B) actions, documents, or policies that are not enforceable
in the United States;
``(C) actions, documents, or policies necessary for international
relations, trade, or commerce;
``(D) actions or documents that protect the public health;
``(E) actions that protect the rights of victims of crimes
or criminal defendants; and
``(F) documents that utilize terms of art or phrases from
languages other than English.''
(b) Conforming Amendment.--The table of chapters for title
4, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new
``6. Language of the Government.............................
SEC. 4. PREEMPTION.
This Act (and the amendments made by this Act) shall not preempt any
law of any State.
SEC. 5. EFFECTIVE DATE.
The amendments made by section 3 shall take effect upon the
date of enactment of this Act, except that no suit may be commenced to
enforce or determine rights under the amendments until January 1, 1996.