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Ruiz v. Hull

191 Ariz. 441, 957 P.2d 984 (1998)

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Ruiz v. Hull

Arizona Supreme Court

191 Ariz. 441, 957 P.2d 984 (1998)

Facts

In 1998 Arizona added an amendment to its state constitution requiring that the state and its political subdivisions must “act in English and in no other language.” The amendment extended standing to sue to enforce the amendment to anyone living in or doing business in Arizona. The amendment provided a few limited exceptions, such as permitting the teaching of a foreign language. The effort to pass this amendment was driven by Arizonans for Official English (AOE). In pamphlets supporting the amendment, AOE’s chairman stated that the purpose of the amendment was to mandate that government functions be carried out in English, with few exceptions. The chairman stated that allowing people to speak in multiple languages caused division. Another group, the Legislative Council, stated that a society with multiple languages created tension and ethnic distrust. Armando Ruiz and a group of bilingual elected officials and government employees (plaintiffs) alleged that the amendment violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and sued the governor of Arizona (defendant) for declaratory judgment. The trial court ruled that the amendment was a content-neutral regulation of speech and did not violate the First Amendment. Furthermore, the trial court ruled that the amendment did not violate equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, because Ruiz did not establish that Arizona’s English-only amendment was motivated by discriminatory intent. The Arizona Supreme Court reviewed the case. The attorney general argued a narrower interpretation of the amendment before the state’s highest court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moeller, J.)

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