ACLJ Files Amicus Brief in National Motto Litigation
Today we are filing in the U.S. District Court in California an amicus brief on behalf of 47 members of Congress in support of the federal governments request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of our national motto, In God We Trust. We believe the court should dismiss this lawsuit which has no basis in fact and represents another flawed attempt to use the legal system to remove a legitimate reference to the religious heritage of our nation. Our nations history is replete with examples of acknowledgment of religious belief in the public sector, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly referenced the national motto as a legitimate expression of our religious heritage. Its clear that the national motto is not only permissible, but constitutional as well; and were hopeful that the federal district court will dismiss this frivolous lawsuit. Our amicus brief supports the federal governments request asking the federal district court to dismiss the lawsuit filed last November by California atheist Michael Newdow. In God We Trust appears on U.S. currency and has been the official U.S. motto since 1956. Our brief said the legal challenge to the national motto can have other ramifications as well: A decision in this case invalidating the motto would render constitutionally suspect a number of practices that traditionally have been considered an important part of American society. Nothing in the Supreme Courts Establishment Clause jurisprudence requires the relentless extirpation of public references to God that Plaintiff demands. Whether it be in the national motto, the Pledge of Allegiance, patriotic music, or the nations founding documents, such references are wholly consistent with the First Amendment. In our conclusion, we urged the court to dismiss the suit. The Establishment Clause was never intended as a guarantee that a person will not be exposed to religion or religious symbols on public property, and the Supreme Court has rejected previous attempts to eradicate all symbols of this countrys religious heritage from the publics view. Although enterprising plaintiffs can find support for just about any proposition in the Courts multifarious Establishment Clause pronouncements, a claim that the national motto violates the First Amendment borders on frivolous. We represent the ACLJ 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 members of the 109th Congress and support the Defendants motion to dismiss the lawsuit.