Language rights in the US Constitution

Eduardo Daniel Faingold

University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA


This paper analyzes the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for language that defines the linguistic obligations of the US and the language rights of persons in the US, arguing that neither the US Constitution nor the Civil Rights Act of 1964 define de jure obligations of the US towards members of language minorities. The paper argues that the US should explicitly recognize certain language rights of minority groups in the US. In addition, the paper aims to provide expert advice about language policy to aid political decision-makers of the US in interpreting existing legislation and drafting new legislation to help solve linguistic conflicts arising among speakers of majority and minority languages (Faingold 2004, 2007). Future interpretations of existing laws and statutes and new legislation addressing the rights of speakers of minority languages to Equal Protection status under the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are more likely to help solve conflicts by defining legally the status of speakers of such languages (Del Valle 2003, Faingold 2006)


Del Valle, S. 2003. Language Rights and the Law in the United States. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Faingold, E. D. 2004. Language rights and language justice in the constitutions of the world. Language Problems and Language Planning 28: 11-24.

Faingold, E. D. 2006. Expert witness report: Code-switching in the workplace. Maldonado v. City of Altus, 433 F. 3d 1294 (10 Cir. 2006).

Faingold, E. D. 2007. Language rights in the 2004 draft of the European Union Constitution. Language Problems and Language Planning 31: 25-36.

Session: Paper session
Religion / Language Rights
Friday, April 4, 2008, 15:45-17:15
room: 16