Santorum says Puerto Rico must adopt English for statehood
March 14th, 2012
05:47 PM ET
3 years ago

Santorum says Puerto Rico must adopt English for statehood

(CNN) – Rick Santorum on Wednesday laid out one caveat he would hold for the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico before it obtained statehood, saying the island would need to make English its principal language before it becomes a state.

Santorum portrayed the language requirement as a matter of federal law, though no language provision currently exists for territories seeking statehood. In the past, territories seeking admission to the United States have been required to adopt English as the language of state government.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

Speaking with the Puerto Rico newspaper Vocero, Santorum was asked if he would support statehood for an island where the primary language is Spanish.

"Like any other state, there needs to be compliance with this and any other federal law," Santorum said. "And that is that English needs to be the principal language. There are other states with more than one language, like Hawaii, but to be a state of the United States, English must be the principal language."

Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution spells out how states can be admitted to the union, making no mention of language requirements. The passage states: "New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress."

A second clause states Congress has the power to "dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States."

In the past, Congress has passed "enabling acts" for territories seeking statehood, and has included provisions requiring English to be the prevailing language as a requirement for admission. The Louisiana Enabling Act of 1811 mandated the new state conduct its official business in the same language as the United States.

In 1906, Congress passed an enabling act requiring Oklahoma use English in its public schools before it obtained statehood.

There is currently no law declaring an official language of the United States, though several attempts have been made to give English that designation. Thirty-one states have passed laws naming English as their official language.

Both English and Spanish are official languages of Puerto Rico, though Spanish is by far the dominant language on the island. According to census data released in 2012, 81% of Puerto Rico residents spoke English "less than very well," with 95% saying Spanish was the language they spoke at home.

Congress would need to approve statehood for Puerto Rico after residents voted in a referendum. Many members of Congress, some of whom have pushed for a federal law declaring English as the official language of the United States, would no doubt raise the island's language as an issue before voting for statehood.

Santorum was campaigning in Puerto Rico Wednesday ahead of the territory's GOP primary on Sunday. There are 20 total delegates at stake.

Also see:

When Romney says 'get rid of' Planned Parenthood he means…

Hatch, if reelected, wouldn't run again

Ridge endorses Romney

Poll: Santorum leads in Pennsylvania


Filed under: 2012 • Puerto Rico • Rick Santorum
soundoff (152 Responses)
  1. Romney is not My Hero

    Okay, that's it. I know what's going on now. This gasbag is a plant from the Obama Administration. - Oh, I should have kept that hush hush. Sorry.

    OBAMA 2012!

    March 15, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. Framous

    I agree with Santorum on this one...and disagree with him on most other things.

    March 15, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. Tom

    Uh, wow. So I didn't know that America was a language? I thought America was an idea that transcends language. Guess I was wrong.

    March 15, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  4. AKsteve

    ...and they should paint themselves white, become Catholics and drive SUVs.

    Good grief. What narrow world view the republicans have. It's embarrassing.

    March 15, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  5. Marshall

    Are people finally beginning to realize what a lunatic Santorum is? He is a Torquemada in waiting, in waiting to control every aspect of your life according to his percepts. He would attempt too create a theocratic America, would try to infuse religion into science courses conflating the two and thereby making a mockery of both, is anti science and unaware that this is supposed to be the "Age of Reason" not the middle ages. His contention that the earth only suffices for human use guarantees despoilment because of unbridled public and private enterprise.

    March 15, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  6. Brady

    Where I grew in South Texas Spanish felt like a primary language and am happy it made me bi-lingual but English is the language of the US. I don't think there is anything wrong with saying it. I don't know any of my friends that are Hispanic that do well and don't speak good English. If you want your children to prosper get them in a school that teaches Latin as it is the basis of the love languages. I took it for 8 years and it was the best money my parents ever spent. If your lifes ambition is to mow yards & fix drywall Spanish will work.

    March 15, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "I actually agree with something Santorum said. Oh well. Even a broken clock is right twice a day."

    Yes, but in keeping with the Ayatollah Santorum's push for returning to "simpler times" like the middle ages or maybe Babbylon, the correct analogy is SUNDIAL....and a broken sundial is NEVER right. The Ayatollah is pretty much batting 1000.

    March 15, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. Seablade

    The Republican Party platform of 2008 says:

    We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a state, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S. government.

    March 15, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "I actually agree with something Santorum said. Oh well. Even a broken clock is right twice a day."

    I'd agree with you, but in keeping with the Ayatollah Santorum's push for returning to "simpler times" like the middle ages or maybe Babylon, the correct analogy is SUNDIAL, not clock....and a broken sundial is NEVER right. The Ayatollah is pretty much batting 1000 in the GOP's neverending game of Wrongball.

    March 15, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  10. Lar 5

    Santorum hates everyone he cannot see reflected in his mirror. It is pathetic that the republican party can even consider this person to president of all the people of the United States. It is beyond comprehension .If elected he would demand that all follow the dictates of his church, religion and ideology.. You need to go back to Germany in the 1930's to understand the danger facing this country and every man. woman and child who is not like him.

    March 15, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. WIMPY38

    Boy, that's like going to Harlem and telling all of the African Americans to throw out their hot sause in order to vote this year!

    March 15, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. ClearAndPresentThinking

    lol!

    Some much for any chance at getting the P.R. delegation support. Idiocy in any language is no excuse to run for POTUS.

    March 15, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. susan

    And God said "let there be English".

    March 15, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. MTATL67

    OH LORD.. just like Palin. Thinking just because they say it makes it true.

    March 15, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  15. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    They can adopt English as the primary language if they want staehood. Or they can keep speaking Spanish and team up with Cuba or Mexico or go it alone. Their choice. They're a net drag on the USA so them going somewhere else wouldn't cause anybody to lose any sleep.

    March 15, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. phoenix86

    Santorum is right.

    March 15, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  17. Malory Archer

    My husband grew up in the Catholic church and attended Monastery School. He is horrified by this presidential candidate. Every time this guy opens his yap, Opus Dei comes to mind.

    March 15, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "The Republican Party platform of 2008 says:"

    Yeah, but that was BEFORE they lost to a black dude and got a giant walking veto-wielding talking reminder that white majority and control is shrinking rapidly in this country.

    March 15, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. SCAtheist

    Another day, another insulting lie.

    March 15, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  20. stellarsjay

    Santorum has thown down the gauntlet, but should be prepared to accept the consequences. Should Puerto Ricans choose independence because they are unwilling to adopt the English language, the U.S. has to be willing to accept the loss of this territory (incl. any military installations in this territory). Otherwise, the U.S. sounds no better than the current China government with respect to Taiwan.

    March 15, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. Fair is Fair

    "Yeah, but that was BEFORE they lost to a black dude and got a giant walking veto-wielding talking reminder that white majority and control is shrinking rapidly in this country."
    --------
    You sound like a broken record. EVERYTHING to you is about race. EVERYTHING. And yet it's YOU that has to inject it into EVERY comment or conversation. You're a sorry soul to be sure.

    March 15, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  22. Emmy Skaddittle

    The candidates take on ever little non issue. Hey Rick what are you going to do about JOBS!

    March 15, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  23. chechi

    What else Santorum would demand, that women in PR be bare foot and pregnant, teaching their children at home like his wife does?

    March 15, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    ""Yeah, but that was BEFORE they lost to a black dude and got a giant walking veto-wielding talking reminder that white majority and control is shrinking rapidly in this country."
    --–
    You sound like a broken record. EVERYTHING to you is about race. EVERYTHING. And yet it's YOU that has to inject it into EVERY comment or conversation. You're a sorry soul to be sure."

    ====

    Calls 'em like I sees 'em. However, I'd like an explanation as to why I'm somehow the one "injecting" race into a conversation regarding an arrogant white man telling an entire non-white country and culture that it if they want to play with us in Whitey World, they must assimilate like the Borg.

    March 15, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. Anna

    So what. He's right. It doesn't mean that they can't speak their language, but it does mean if you want to be a full fledge member of the club you gotta play by the rules.

    March 15, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7