Skip to comments.Alabama Supreme Court "allows" drivers exam in Spanish
Posted on 10/20/2007 2:18:09 AM PDT by Log
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) A sharply divided Alabama Supreme Court turned back a group Friday that sought to end Alabama's practice of giving the driver's license exam in several foreign languages.
Attorneys for the ProEnglish organization had argued that giving the exam in multiple languages violated a constitutional amendment that designates English as Alabama's official language.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court said the ProEnglish group presented no evidence that administering the test in multiple languages diminishes English as Alabama's common language. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling in favor of Gov. Bob Riley and other state officials.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb cited the governor's argument that permitting people with limited English proficiency to take the written portion of the exam in their native language helped them get a license, and the license fostered their assimilation into the community by increasing their access to education, employment and shopping.
Four justices Glenn Murdock, Lyn Stuart, Mike Bolin and Tom Parker said the case should have gone in favor of the plaintiffs.
In Bolin's dissent, he said the majority was misinterpreting the constitution amendment.
"The immigrants who came to Alabama by way of Ellis Island in the early 20th century did not have the benefit of a tortured construction of Amendment No. 509 and evidently 'assimilated' the wrong way they actually learned the English language," Bolin wrote.
In 1990, Alabama voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that says: "English is the official language of the state of Alabama."
The constitutional amendment also says the Legislature "shall enforce this amendment by appropriate legislation," and the Legislature "shall make no law which diminishes or ignores the role of English as the common language of the state of Alabama."
After the constitutional amendment was enacted, the Department of Public Safety, upon the advice of then-Attorney General Jimmy Evans, went from giving the driver exam in 14 languages to just one in 1991.
Then in 1998, after being sued by a Spanish-speaking resident, the department returned to having the exam in multiple languages.
That prompted the suit by members of ProEnglish, who were represented by the Southeastern Legal Foundation in Atlanta. Foundation Executive Director Shannon Goessling said the 5-4 decision showed the court "was clearly battling serious issues of first impression."
She said the organization will consider its appeal possibilities, but the Legislature could settle the matter by voting in its upcoming session to use only English for the exam.
The state Department of Public Safety currently offers the driver's exam in Arabic, English, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese and American sign language.
So they won’t be able to read the road signs, people will be killed because of this.
Obviously, they aren’t citizens because they couldn’t have passed the citizenship test. So Alabama is going the way of Spitzer in New York and allowing illegal aliens to get drivers’ licenses. Go help us all.
Let’s see now...even at 5:30 a.m. and before coffee, there IS a “d” in God.
In Bolin’s dissent, he said the majority was misinterpreting the constitution amendment.
“The immigrants who came to Alabama by way of Ellis Island in the early 20th century did not have the benefit of a tortured construction of Amendment No. 509 and evidently ‘assimilated’ the wrong way they actually learned the English language,” Bolin wrote.
If I am in Mexico illegally, do I get to apply for a driver’s license and take my test in English?
In reality, of course, I would be instantly deported and the license test wouldn’t matter.
Libs love a double standard.
The Alabama Constitution is an unholy mess, it has a ghastly number of amendments to it. There have been several moves to try to call for a new Constitutional Convention to streamline it, but it has yet to be successful.
And she’s the only rodent on the bench, the rest are GOP. We know what liberal rodents do, but it’s the RINOs that help their cause to the last.
Bob Riley is the biggest RINO in Alabama.
Meanwhile, next door in Georgia, the state supreme court has ruled that even if you dont understand English, reading Miranda rights or conducting tests like those for DUI in English are permitted regardless of what language you understand.
Nice. How about flying lessons in Arabic too?
Nice evasion of the key point. Drivers' tests are official documents and the official language is English.
Folks, this is an example in microcosm why the democrats should never be in control of security in this nation.
The immigrants who came to Alabama by way of Ellis Island in the early 20th century did not have the benefit of a tortured construction of Amendment No. 509 and evidently assimilated the wrong way they actually learned the English language, Bolin wrote.
I think that's his sarcastic way of saying that truly getting assimilated requires a person to learn the language of his new country. His objection isn't with the official English amendment but rather with its being tortured to allow the test to be given in languages other than English.
I’m getting a little tired of them being termed “democrats”.
There is hardly anything democratic about these folks today.
Yeah, who are you going to believe? Us black-robed elite philosopher kings, or some silly written statute that reflects the will of the people?
Bad real bad idea.
But then again I’ve reached the painful conclusion that most national and state politicians are against this country and their constituents. Hell is truly going to be Hell cause of all the traitorous politicians that are going to be residing there! And they deserve each other!!!
That’s the big argument against calling for a convention. Better a massive document with the rights and guarantees spelled out than a short one where they’re tossed out.