Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Rules National Motto is Constitutional
WASHINGTON, DC - The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the national motto, "In God We Trust," does not violate the United States Constitution. California atheist Michael Newdow had filed suit claiming that the national motto, "In God We Trust," and the laws calling for the inscription of that motto on the nation's coin and currency were unconstitutional. Newdow's prior suit, filed on behalf of his daughter, to remove "Under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance was also unsuccessful.
Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief with the court to protect the national motto. In the ruling, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order dismissing Mr. Newdow's claims. The Ninth Circuit agreed that Mr. Newdow technically had standing to bring the claims to court but that the claims did not have any merit, as the Ninth Circuit had already determined that the national motto did not violate the Establishment Clause. For the same reason, the Ninth Circuit found Mr. Newdow's claim that the national motto violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act did not have merit.
"In God We Trust" made its first appearance on U.S. currency in 1865, when Congress passed an act placing the phrase on all coins. The motto has been used on all United States paper money since 1957. The constitutionality of the motto was challenged in 1970 in Aronow v. United States, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the phrase "has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion." In 1979, atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair unsuccessfully challenged the motto in the case of O'Hair v. Blumenthal. This decision affects states within the Ninth Circuit's jurisdiction, which includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. There are now "In God We Trust" license plates available in Indiana and Kentucky. The "In God We Trust" plate is an alternative regular plate, meaning that motorists can request it without paying additional registration fees.
Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: "The words 'In God We Trust' are part of our American heritage. Mr. Newdow's baseless lawsuits have wasted thousands of dollars of the taxpayers' money. His claims are wholly without merit, and we hope he will abstain from any additional frivolous lawsuits. America was founded upon religious principles and the belief in God. Mere expression of our heritage cannot establish a religion. A public acknowledgement of God is not an establishment of religion."
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