U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review Challenge to “In God We Trust”

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order declining to review a challenge to the national motto, “In God We Trust.” Brought by prominent atheist Dr. Michael Newdow, the lawsuit alleged that the motto violated the religion clauses of the First Amendment. The Ninth Circuit disagreed, ruling that the motto does not violate the Constitution because it is ceremonial and patriotic in nature. Lowell Sturgill, Jr., from the U.S. Department of Justice, argued the case along with Kevin Snider of the Pacific Justice Institute, before the Ninth Circuit. PJI intervened in the lawsuit as a co-defendant with the U.S. defendants in the case which was originally filed in late 2005.

“Since the initial decision upholding the motto by the trial court in June of 2006, we have seen a steady stream of local governments find their courage to display the motto,” said Brad Dacus, president of PJI. “We believe that the denial of the petition for review by the Supreme Court has cleared away any remaining doubts that officials have,” he continued.

By way of example, the Board of Supervisors of Kern County, California, recently voted to display the motto in its meeting chambers over the objection of County Counsel who warned that it violated the separation of church and state. It is believed that Kern County is the first county in the country to display the motto. PJI has drafted a legal opinion letter on the constitutionality of the motto which has found its way to numerous government bodies. In the letter, PJI vows to represent local governments without charge in the event that suit is filed. A Bakersfield Councilmember, Jacquie Sullivan, has spearheaded these efforts to promote patriotism by displaying the motto in city halls. Her efforts have been paying off in that there are now over 160 cities in seven states which have displayed the motto.