This week U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Newdow v. United States of America decided to uphold the use of the national motto, “In God We Trust,” on U.S. currency. Attorneys with the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom had filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Court in support of the use of the national motto.
“Americans need not be forced to abandon their religious heritage simply to appease someone’s animosity toward anything that references God. Courts have repeatedly affirmed that the national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ is constitutional and can be used on U.S. currency. The 2nd Circuit rightly reached the same conclusion because this suit was based on a deeply flawed understanding of the First Amendment,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Litigation Staff Counsel Rory Gray.
Last February, a group of atheists filed a lawsuit against the federal government that claims the use of the national motto on money is unconstitutional even though it is a practice that has deep roots in American history and federal courts have repeatedly upheld it as constitutional.
The Alliance Defending Freedom brief explained that merely being offended is not a sufficient legal cause (known as “standing”) on which to file a lawsuit attacking the national motto.
As the Alliance Defending Freedom brief filed in Newdow v. United States of America explains, the government’s expenditure of tax dollars to create coins and currency is “a secular government function” that does not further any religious ends. The brief also notes that “ideological frustration” or “subjective feelings of offense and alienation” are not legitimate reasons to file a lawsuit. “Federal courts are not forums for the ventilation of public grievances,” the brief says.
“The emotional response of offended atheists does not amount to a violation of the Establishment Clause,” added Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “This lawsuit is based on a deep misunderstanding of the First Amendment. It should be dismissed.”
Joseph Ruta, one of nearly 2,300 attorneys allied with Alliance Defending Freedom, is local counsel for ADF.