Supreme Court Declines Challenge to 'In God We Trust' Motto

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June 10, 2019

The Supreme Court declined to take up a legal challenge to the inscription of "In God We Trust" on coins and currency.

The court rejected the challenge from activist Michael Newdow, who claimed the inclusion of the phrase on American currency violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, the Washington Examiner reports. The Establishment Clause declares that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

A 1955 law passed by Congress requires all currency to include the phrase, although it first appeared on coins in 1864.

Newdow claimed that "by mandating the inscription of facially religious text on every coin and currency bill," the government thereby deemed atheists "political outsiders." The lawsuit also argued that the phrase violated the Fifth Amendment's due process clause and the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act because it forces "Petitioners (who are Atheists) to bear and proselytize that Montheistic message."

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Newdow's case in 2018, arguing the phrase "does not compel citizens to engage in a religious observance." The Supreme Court elected not to rule on the case, instead letting the circuit court's decision stand.

Newdow has brought forth other challenges to what he perceives as government endorsements of religion. In 2004, he unsuccessfully argued the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violated the First Amendment.

Newdow also tried to stop the phrase "So help me God" from being used in the 2009, 2013, and 2017 presidential inauguration ceremonies, but was unsuccessful in court.

Published under: Religious Freedom