CONTACT: SHERI ANNIS
Wednesday, July 15, 1998.
San Francisco---Federal District Judge Charles Legge dealt a severe blow to opponents of Proposition 227, ruling against their motion for a temporary injunction to block implementation of the initiative dismantling bilingual education. Judge Legge's detailed 48-page opinion found no basis in federal or constitutional law for requiring bilingual education, and a compelling public interest in immediately implementing the initiative, which received the support of a landslide 61% of the state's voters on June 2nd.
The judge's ruling means that Proposition 227 will be in full legal force at the beginning of the new school year in September, largely ending California's 30-year program of bilingual education in the public schools. Following the ruling, most of California's school districts indicated that they will follow the judge's decision and comply with the new law.
The speed with which the legal challenge to Proposition 227 was resolved contrasts with the lengthy litigation surrounding other controversial California ballot measures. In recent years, dismayed supporters of Prop. 103 (auto insurance), Prop. 187 (illegal immigration), Prop. 208 (campaign reform), Prop. 209 (affirmative action), and Prop. 215 (medical marijuana) have seen their measures partially or completely blocked in court for a period of months or years.
According to Ron Unz, Chairman of the Prop. 227 campaign, this rapid legal action on Prop. 227 may raise public confidence in elections. "California voters have grown increasingly cynical in recent years that their election-day votes are inevitably nullified by unelected judges. The solid legal construction of our own initiative and the thoughtful analysis of Judge Legge means that Proposition 227 will not be delayed a single day or diminished in any respect by the Courts, and popular faith in the democratic process can begin to be reestablished."
Although opponents of Prop. 227 plan to appeal Judge Legge's ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, few observers expect that any further legal action will occur prior to the statewide dismantling of bilingual education programs as the new school year begins.