A district court in Ohio dismissed a lawsuit that demanded for the removal of the national motto “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that the motto violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, their right to free exercise and free speech under the First Amendment, and the right to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause.
“Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that the use of the motto on currency substantially burdens their religious exercise,” Judge Benita Pearson wrote in a ruling on Wednesday. “Credit cards and checks allow Plaintiffs to conduct the bulk of their purchases with currency not inscribed with the motto. And for cash-only transactions, such as a garage sale or a coin-operated laundromat, the use of the motto on currency does not substantially burden Plaintiffs’ free exercise.”
“No reasonable viewer would think a person handling money does so to spread its religious message,” Pearson continued.
"We're grateful that the court upheld the federal government's ability to display our National Motto on our currency," president and CEO of FIrst Liberty Institute Kelly Shackelford said in a statement.
"Federal courts have repeatedly upheld the National Motto as constitutional. 'In God We Trust' is deeply embedded in our nation's history and is a symbol of patriotism."
The lawsuit was filed by Michael Newdow and Ohio attorney Thomas M. Horwitz on behalf of several “atheists, their children, and religious persons.” Newdow, an attorney and emergency room doctor, filed similar lawsuits regarding the motto in the past. Others involved unsuccessful attempts to remove the phrase “under God” in recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance.