Erik Schelzig, AP, Feb. 12, 2007
Mayor Bill Purcell vetoed a measure Monday that would have made English the official language of Nashville, saying it was unconstitutional, unnecessary and mean-spirited.
“This ordinance does not reflect who we are in Nashville,” Purcell said.
The measure passed 23-14 last week by the Metro Council required all government documents to be in English, except when multilingual communications are required by federal rules or are needed “to protect or promote public health, safety or welfare.”
Opponents and supporters of the ordinance agreed it was largely a symbolic slap at illegal immigration that had no significant effect.
Purcell said his legal staff had advised him the bill violated the U.S. and state constitutions and would be costly to defend.
“If this ordinance becomes law, Nashville will become a less safe, less friendly and less successful city,” Purcell said. “And as mayor, I cannot allow that to happen.”
His veto seems likely to stand. It would take 27 council votes to override it.