Bench Memos

DOJ vs. Michigan on Foreign-Language Interpreters—Part 2

The federal bureaucracy can be a lumbering sloth, but no one can accuse the U.S. Department of Justice of a lack of vigor in pursuing its legally flawed disparate-impact agenda.

A mere six days after the Michigan supreme court issued its new rule (see Part 1), DOJ sent a letter setting forth its “grave concerns that the Rule will result in national origin discrimination.” This very phrasing (“result in”), of course, reflects the disparate-impact theory that Justice Markman so thoroughly criticizes.

I do wonder whether DOJ itself will soon seek support as an LEP (“limited English proficient”) entity. Note, for example, this sentence:

In an August 2010 Civil Rights Division Guidance Letter, DOJ again explained that “access to all court proceedings [are] critical.”

It’s DOJ that has put the word “are” in brackets (substituting for “as” in the original source). The three signatories to the letter—the acting Assistant Attorney General and two United States Attorneys—either haven’t read their bullying letter with care or don’t know elementary English grammar well enough to recognize that the singular noun “access” is the subject of the clause (and thus calls for the verb “is”).

Here’s another gem: “we are disappointed that the issuance of this Rule did not reciprocate our concerted efforts to ensure that Michigan state courts meet their longstanding civil rights obligations.” (Emphasis added.)


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