ACLJ Represents Members of Congress in Asking Federal Appeals Court to Uphold Dismissal of Lawsuit Challenging 'In God We Trust'
"Every court that has considered this issue has reached the same conclusion: the national motto has nothing to do with the establishment of religion." -- Jay Sekulow, ACLJ Chief Counsel
Contact: Todd Shearer, 770-813-0000 x. 239, 404-313-4206 cell; Gene Kapp, 757-226-2749, 757-575-9520 cell
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 /Christian Newswire/ -- Hoping to settle the issue once and for all, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) on Nov. 22, filed an amicus brief on behalf of 47 members of Congress asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold a decision last June in which a federal district court dismissed a lawsuit filed by Michael Newdow challenging the constitutionality of our national motto, "In God We Trust."
"The lower court was right on the mark in dismissing this lawsuit," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. "Every court that has considered this issue has reached the same conclusion: the national motto has nothing to do with the establishment of religion. This frivolous lawsuit was designed to re-write history by removing a legitimate expression of our religious history. The decision to dismiss this lawsuit at the federal district court level was sound and proper and we're confident the federal appeals court will uphold that decision putting to rest this latest legal challenge against our national motto."
In its amicus brief, the ACLJ cites a 1970 decision by the Ninth Circuit that concluded the national motto does not violate the Establishment Clause. In its decision 36 years ago, the Ninth Circuit concluded: "It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency 'In God We Trust' has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise. . . . While 'ceremonial' and 'patriotic' may not be particularly apt words to describe the category of the national motto, it is excluded from First Amendment significance because the motto has no theological or ritualistic impact."
In its brief, the ACLJ asserts that the use of the national motto is fully consistent with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. "The words of the motto echo the conviction held by the Founders of this Nation that our freedoms come from God," the brief explains. "Congress codified 'In God We Trust' as our national motto for the express purpose of reaffirming America's unique history and understanding of this truth, and to distinguish America from atheistic nations who recognize no higher authority than the State."
"While the First Amendment affords atheists complete freedom to disbelieve, it does not compel the federal judiciary to redact religious references in every area of public life in order to suit atheistic sensibilities," the brief contends. The ACLJ brief is posted online at www.aclj.org.
The ACLJ represents itself and 47 members of Congress. The list includes: U.S. Senator Jim DeMint and U.S. Representatives Robert B. Aderholt, W. Todd Akin, Roscoe G. Bartlett, Kevin Brady, John Campbell, Steve Chabot, Chris Chocola, K. Michael Conaway, Geoff Davis, Jo Ann Davis, Phil English, Tom Feeney, Virginia Foxx, Trent Franks, Scott Garrett, Phil Gingrey, Virgil H. Goode, Jr., Gil Gutknecht, J.D. Hayworth, Jeb Hensarling, Wally Herger, Bob Inglis, Ernest J. Istook, Jr., Bobby Jindal, Sam Johnson, Michael T. McCaul, Patrick T. McHenry, Sue Wilkins Myrick, Randy Neugebauer, Charlie Norwood, Mike Pence, Charles W. "Chip" Pickering, Todd Russell Platts, Dana Rohrabacher, Paul Ryan, Jim Ryun, John B. Shadegg, Michael E. Sodrel, Mark E. Souder, Thomas G. Tancredo, Lee Terry, Todd Tiahrt, Zach Wamp, Dave Weldon, Lynn A. Westmoreland, and Roger F. Wicker. All are currently serving in the 109th Congress.
"In God We Trust" appears on U.S. currency and has been the official U.S. motto since 1956. Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice is based in Washington, D.C. and is online at www.aclj.org.