It’s happened again. A federal court threw out a challenge by atheists who want to eliminate the national motto, “In God We Trust.”
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected arguments from atheists because the motto doesn’t burden their free exercise, nor does it impact their free speech.
“The court ruled that the national motto is a symbol of common national identity and did not discriminate against or suppress plaintiffs’ beliefs,” the American Center for Law and Justice said.
With respect to plaintiffs’ free speech claim, the court stated: “Because plaintiffs do not allege that the motto is attributed to them and because the Supreme Court has reasoned that currency is not ‘readily associated with’ its temporary carrier, the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs’ Free Speech claim.”
ACLJ said the case was filed by Michael Newdow, who repeatedly has gone to court to try to restrict the national motto or remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.
The claim was that “the mere presence of the national motto on currency violates their Free Speech and Free Exercise Clause rights. The atheists asserted that carrying currency equated to governmental compulsion to speak in support of the national motto and to bear a ‘religiously offensive’ message, in violation of the Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).”
ACLJ contributed a friend-of-the-court brief representing 38 members of Congress as well as the Committee to Protect the National Motto, which includes more than 120,000 Americans.
“We argued that ‘while the First Amendment affords atheists complete freedom to disbelieve, it does not compel the federal judiciary to redact the national motto from the nation’s currency.’ We also explained to the court that ‘plaintiffs’ quarrel is essentially with a foundational principle of America,’ and ‘the national motto simply echoes the principle found in the Declaration of Independence that our freedoms come from God and not the state.’ Our brief argues further that neither the free speech rights nor the free exercise rights of plaintiffs are impaired by seeing the national motto on the currency. Placing the national motto on currency does not force them to do anything. The national motto is the government’s message and no one would attribute that message to atheists or to any other person who happens to carry money,” ACLJ explained.
Joining in the brief were members of Congress: Sens. James Lankford, Roy Blunt, Steve Daines, James M. Inhofe and Joe Manchin; Reps. Mark Walker, Robert Aderholt, Rick Allen, Brian Babin, Jim Banks, Diane Black, K. Michael Conaway, Kevin Cramer, Jeff Duncan, Bill Flores, Trent Franks, H. Morgan Griffith, Vicky Hartzler, Jeb Hensarling, Jody Hice, Richard Hudson, Bill Johnson, Walter Jones, Mike Kelly, Steve King, Doug Lamborn, Billy Long, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Tom McClintock, Steve Pearce, Robert Pittenger, John Ratcliffe, Todd Rokita, Keith Rothfus, Steve Russell, Pete Sessions, Tim Walberg and Daniel Webster.
A similar case is before the 7th Circuit, where a self-described “Satanist” is objecting to the motto
“Every court that has considered any challenge to the national motto has rejected it. When we filed our amicus brief, we let the court know we were representing over 315,000 supporters who signed on to our Committee to Defend ‘In God We Trust’ – Our National Motto – on Our Currency,” ACLJ said.