A judge has refused to dismiss a state employee's lawsuit challenging Arizona's so-called "official English" law.
Maria-Kelly Yniguez, an employee of the state Department of Administration, sued the state Nov. 10, two days after the voters narrowly approved Proposition 106, making English the state's official language.Yniguez said in the lawsuit that she feared she would be fired if she spoke Spanish on the job becuase the constitutional amendment prohibits governmental agencies from acting in any language other than English.
State Solicitor General Anthony Ching contended that the state could not be sued because state officials have no power to enforce the new law.
"Constitutional challenges must be grounded on an actual controversy and not imaginary, speculative or hypothetical controversy," Ching said in documents filed in U.S. District Court in support of his motion to dismiss the case.
He said state officials "have not threatened to enforce" the measure and "in fact, they disclaimed any enforcement power."
But Stephen Montoya, an attorney representing Yniguez, said in response that state officials have the duty to enforce the law.
"Each defendant has the specific duty to obey Article 28 (the official English amendment) and to assure that their respective departments, agencies and subordinates operate within its confines," Montoya said.
He said the amendment "radically modifies the relationship between state employees and the state."
Rosenblatt, who earlier denied a request for a temporary restraining order to block implementation of the law, rejected Ching's motion for dismassal.
The next round in the legal battle is set for Feb. 6, when Rosenblatt is to hear arguments on another effort by the state to have the lawsuit dismissed and on a motion by Yniguez's attorneys for the amendment to be declared unconstitutional.