Press Release

Court Victory for “In God We Trust” Second Circuit rejects militant atheist attempt to strip “God” from nation’s motto

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

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Washington, D.C. – “In God We Trust” was protected from yet another militant atheist lawsuit when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday rejected the idea that the nation’s motto must be stripped off of U.S. currency.Atheist activist Dr. Michael Newdow has repeatedly brought lawsuits seeking to remove “God” from public life, this time targeting the national motto, “In God We Trust,” which has been stamped on U.S. coins since the 1860s and is derived from the fourth verse of the national anthem The Star-Spangled Banner. The case reached the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, which rejected Dr. Newdow’s argument that the motto violates the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, upholding the lower court’s favorable ruling.

“The Court reached a common sense decision yesterday,” stated Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel at Becket, which filed an amicus brief in the case. “Perhaps the best thing about it is the short shrift the Court gave Dr. Newdow’s argument. Courts should not have to spend valuable time rejecting extreme claims about religion that reflect a paranoid view of the Constitution.”

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals stated in its opinion, “The Court has recognized in a number of its cases that the motto, and its inclusion in the design of U.S. currency, is a ‘reference to our religious heritage.’”

Becket has previously defended against attempts to eliminate historical references to religion in other lawsuits, such as protecting the words “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court or legislative prayer in New York, both of which won victories earlier this month.In January, Becket filed an amicus brief defending the national motto in the case Newdow v. The Congress of the United States, stating, “The Establishment Clause does not require the Court or any governmental agency to adopt as official government policy Appellants’ personal hostility towards the word ‘God.’ Indeed, the Establishment Clause forbids the very hostility towards religion that Appellants would enshrine in it.

”Dr. Newdow can now seek to appeal the decision to the full Court of Appeals or to the United States Supreme Court.“Let’s hope that this time Dr. Newdow will get the message,” said Rassbach. “These lawsuits claim that the Motto and the Pledge are divisive, when in fact it is the litigation itself that sows division.”

Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions—from Anglicans to Zoroastrians. For 18 years its attorneys have been recognized as experts in the field of church-state law. Becket recently won a 9-0 victory in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.” For more information, or to arrange an interview with one of the attorneys, please contact Melinda Skea at or call 202.349.7224.