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Nashville mayor vetoes ordinance making English official language

[JURIST] Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell [official website] vetoed an amendment to the City Charter [text] Monday that made English the official language of the city government. The Nashville City Council approved [JURIST report] the amendment last week, but city attorneys advised Purcell that it violated the state and federal constitutions and could prove expensive if the city was forced to litigate. Although the ordinance [text] requires the city government to conduct all official business in English, the measure contains an exception for situations when speaking a language other than English is "required by federal law or when necessary to protect or promote public health, safety or welfare."

Purcell's veto can be overridden by 27 council votes in favor of the bill, but such a strong showing of support is unlikely. The Nashville Chamber of Commerce and 14 of 37 council members oppose the measure mainly due to concerns about its effect on the local economy. Other opponents, including the Nashville For All [advocacy website] coalition, claim the resolution is a merely symbolic act that alienates the immigrant population of Nashville [JURIST comment], which boasts the nation's largest Kurdish community and a foreign-born population that has increased 350 percent since 1990. AP has more. The Tennessean has local coverage.

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