The PJ Tatler

Federal Court Rules ‘In God We Trust’ Will Remain on Coins and Currency

God we trust


Lost in a busy news week dominated by Syria, Putin, Obama’s bungling, and the 9/11 anniversary was an important federal court ruling on September 10, resulting in a victory so that the motto “In God We Trust” can remain on all U.S. currency.

The Associated Press reported:

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking removal of the words “In God We Trust” from U.S. coins and currency. Atheist groups and individuals argued that the national motto conveys a religious message that violates separation of church and state and puts them in a position of spreading a religious message when they engage in commerce.

In dismissing the suit, U.S. District Judge Harold Baer, Jr., wrote that “the Supreme Court has repeatedly assumed the motto’s secular purpose and effect” and that federal appeals courts “have found no constitutional violation in the motto’s inclusion on currency.” He added that while the plaintiffs might feel offended, they suffered no “substantial burden.”  One of the plaintiffs said they’ll appeal the judges ruling.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) in response to the judge’s ruling released a statement titled “Victory: In God We Still Trust.” Within the statement was a quote from the amicus brief the ACLJ filed in support of the United States’ motion to have the case dismissed:

Moreover,  the inscription of the national motto . . . on the nation’s currency does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  The national motto simply echoes the principle found in the Declaration of Independence that our freedoms come from God and not the state.

It is a wonderful moment when one is reminded that the unique concept upon which our nation was founded was, in fact, truly exceptional. (Especially since, thanks to Mr. Putin, the question over whether our nation is still exceptional has been up for discussion all week.)

But the atheists will persist in ignoring God’s role in our national creation and as the source of our freedoms. Also, as stated above, they will likely appeal the judges ruling.

Desiring more insight on this ruling, I turned to a friend of mine. Colby M. May  is the senior counsel and director of the Washington office for the ACLJ.  (This group has also taken the lead role in defending numerous Tea Party groups in the IRS abuse scandal. They are doing terrific work and always appreciate additional financial support.)

Here are two questions I posed to Colby along with his answers:

1.  Do you believe that this ruling by Judge Baer will be the end of such attempts to strip the national motto from our currency?

The Supreme Court has repeatedly assumed the national motto was appropriate and its placement on the currency presented no Establishment Clause concern. Likewise, every U.S. court of appeals that has ruled on the issue, namely the Ninth, Fifth, Tenth, and D.C., has found no constitutional violation in the motto’s inclusion on currency. One would like to think that is the end of the matter, but when you are dealing with rabid atheists it appears likely that they will just keep on trying and wasting everyone’s time and resources.

2. Could the plaintiffs try to find another judge or different district that may rule in their favor?

Yes. There are eleven appeals court circuits in the U.S. court system, and each circuit has several districts. As I mentioned, every circuit that has ruled on the national motto, a total of four, has upheld it against Establishment Clause claims. The Rosslyn Newdow, et al., case was in the Southern District of New York, which could be appealed to the Second Circuit. If that happens, the overwhelming odds are that it would agree with its four sister circuits and deny the challenge. That would then leave six more circuits, so I suspect this will keep kicking around for a few more years.

On behalf of PJ MediaI would like to thank Colby May for his expertise on this matter.

Furthermore, if you are interested in knowing when and why the motto ”In God We Trust” first appeared on our coins, it was due to increased religious sentiment during the Civil War. However, the motto has only been printed on our paper money since 1957.  Read more about this fascinating history at