Language Rights and Loss of Judicial Remedy: The Impact of Alexander v. Sandoval on Language Minorities
Rose Cuison Villazor
University of California, Davis
AWAKENING FROM THE DREAM: CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER SIEGE AND THE NEW STRUGGLE FOR EQUAL JUSTICE, Denise C. Morgan, Rachel D. Godsil, Joy Moses, eds., Carolina Academic Press, December 2005
Federal statutory protection of language rights developed through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - particularly § 601 of Title VI, ensuring LEP people access to federally funded services and programs - and Lau v. Nichols, which established a private right of action to enforce the disparate impact regulations of Title VI. Importantly, both the Civil Rights Act and Lau recognized the connection between language barriers and inequality. The Supreme Court's decision in Alexander v. Sandoval, however, weakened the language rights established in Lau by depriving plaintiffs of a private right of action in cases brought under a theory of discriminatory impact. This Chapter examines the rollback of civil rights in Sandoval from the perspective of language minorities, particularly the negative impact on healthcare for LEP people. The Chapter illustrates how the Sandoval opinion inflicted harm on the rights of language minorities by limiting the ways that LEP patients can enforce their right to equal access to health care. It contends that post-Sandoval, the two options that remain available to LEP people who experience unequal access to health care services are inadequate and not necessarily effective. Consequently, Sandoval has limited the ability of language minorities to gain access to basic services or to privately enforce their rights, and has left them vulnerable to continued bias in health care.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 15
Keywords: civil rights, immigrants rights, language rights, access to health care
Date posted: April 26, 2007