The phrase “In God We Trust” does not violate the Constitution, a circuit court of appeals ruled on Aug. 28.
The 3-0 decision by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota came in response to an action brought by a group of 29 atheists and supporters. They contended that the national motto “In God We Trust” appearing on currency was a violation of the First Amendment clause against the establishment of a state religion and a violation of their freedom of speech.
Tuesday’s decision upheld a lower court ruling from December 2016. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a similar decision upholding the constitutionality of the phrase in May 2018, in which the use of the motto on currency was not deemed to be compelled speech.
Circuit Judge Raymond Gruender said that putting “In God We Trust” on currency did not establish a religion, and that it “comports with early understandings of the Establishment Clause.” Further, Gruender said, the motto appearing on money also did not constitute compulsory religious practice and was therefore not a constitutional violation.
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Michael Newdow, who represented the atheists and atheist groups, said in an email to Reuters that Tuesday’s decision was “utterly revolting.”
In addition to attempting to remove “In God We Trust” from currency, Newdow has also litigated attempts to remove the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. He was not successful in that effort.
“In God We Trust” was made the country’s national motto in 1956, when President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law. The phrase had appeared on currency since 1864, and appeared on paper money about 100 years later.