The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota upheld the use of “In God We Trust” on currency after 29 atheists, children of atheists, and atheist groups claimed the motto violated their First Amendment rights.
The court deemed the use of the motto constitutional in a 3-0 decision, claiming that it was not coercive and has been in longstanding use, according to Reuters.
Circuit Judge Raymond Gruender reportedly cited a 2014 Supreme Court decision that required a review of “historical practices” and said that the motto does not constitute an establishment of religion. He reportedly also said that the motto “comports with early understandings of the Establishment Clause” because our constitution allows the government to celebrate “our tradition of religious freedom.”
Michael Newdow, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, in an email called it “utterly revolting” that “the history of governmental denigration of a suspect class should trump [the] principle” that neutrality be the “touchstone” for analyzing claims under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the phrase first appeared on U.S. currency in 1864 and was made the national motto by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956.