Language and Difference in a Democracy - Universal Engagement in Lingusitically Diverse Democracies
Using the United States political system as a case study, and drawing parallels from similar democracies in South Africa, Israel, Ireland, Canada, and Great Britain, the article will develop a normative theory in support of a broad need for a democratic system to accomodate and embrace linguistic diversity. It will offer a detailed critique of existing accommodationist policies in the above countries and set forth a proposal for a flexible legal and political infrastructure that can address the existing inadequacies identified in the United States and elsewhere.
The proposed model for improving accommodation will include the affirmative provision of assistance from certified translators, increased involvement of language minority community groups and organizations in determining the extent of coverage under federal law, and an increased role for courts in regulating and enforcing accomodations – is an attempt to develop a blueprint for democratic accomodation that is tailored to serve all voters who require language assistance in order to act as equal participants in a democracy. It will also address issues of anti-immigrant backlash and voter suppresion that such an accomodationist policy risks enflaming.
Keywords: Language, Democracy, Democratic Participation, Diversity, Politics, Law
Prof. Jocelyn Friedrichs Benson
Assistant Professor of Law, Law School, Wayne State University Law School