Protecting the constitutional principle of the separation of state and church
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Freethought Today

Vol. 11 No. 5 - Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. -
June/July 1994

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"In God We Trust" Legal Complaint

Filed In The United States District Court For The District of Colorado, June 8, 1994

Anne N. Gaylor; Annie Laurie Gaylor; Daniel E. Barker; Glenn V. Smith; Jeff Baysinger; Lora Attwood; The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.; and The Colorado Chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., Plaintiffs,
Versus
The United States of America; The Department of the Treasury; Lloyd W. Bentsen, Secretary of the Treasury; and Mary Ellen Winthrow, Treasurer of the United States, Defendants.

COMPLAINT

Plaintiffs, by and through their undersigned counsel, for a complaint against the defendants, allege as follows:

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

1. This is a civil action arising under the Constitution of the United States. This Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1331 and jurisdiction against the United States as a defendant under 28 U.S.C. 1346(a)(2).

2. Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. 1391(e) because defendants are the United States, an agency of the United States, and an officer or employee of the United States acting in his official capacity and at least one of the plaintiffs is a resident of the State of Colorado.

PARTIES

3. Plaintiff Anne N. Gaylor is a citizen of the United States, a resident of the State of Wisconsin, and pays taxes to the United States and the State of Wisconsin. This Plaintiff is President of The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. and a member of the Foundation's Board of Directors and its Executive Council.

4. Plaintiff Annie Laurie Gaylor is a citizen of the United States, a resident of the State of Wisconsin, and pays taxes to the United States and to the State of Wisconsin. This Plaintiff is Editor of "Freethought Today," the official publication of The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., and is a member of the Foundation's Board of Directors.

5. Plaintiff Daniel E. Barker is a citizen of the United States, a resident of the State of Wisconsin, and pays taxes to the United States and to the State of Wisconsin. This Plaintiff is Director of Education of The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. and is a member of the Foundation's Board of Directors. Plaintiff Barker is an ordained Christian minister and has Native American ancestry.

6. Plaintiff Glenn V. Smith is a citizen of the United States, a resident of the State of Colorado, and pays taxes to the United States and to the State of Colorado. This Plaintiff is a veteran of World War II, a retired railroad engineer, and is a member of The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. and the Foundation's Colorado Chapter. Plaintiff Smith has Native American ancestry.

7. Plaintiff Jeff Baysinger is a citizen of the United States, a resident of the State of Colorado, and pays taxes to the United States and to the State of Colorado. This Plaintiff is a federal employee, is a member of The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., and is a member and chief executive officer of the Foundation's Colorado Chapter.

8. Plaintiff Lora Attwood is a citizen of the United States, a resident of the State of Colorado, and pays taxes to the United States and to the State of Colorado, and is a member of The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. and the Foundation's Colorado Chapter.

9. Plaintiff The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation existing under the laws of the State of Wisconsin and qualified to do business in the State of Colorado. One of the Foundation's primary objectives is to promote the constitutional principle of separation of church and state and to take action against infractions of this principle. The Foundation's Colorado Chapter is an association constituted of Foundation members who promote the Foundation's objectives in the State of Colorado.

10. Defendant The United States of America is the constitutionally established government of the United States.

11. Defendant The Department of the Treasury is an executive department of the United States government.

12. Defendant Lloyd W. Bentsen is the Secretary of the Treasury. Under 31 U.S.C. 321(a)(4), the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized by law to mint coins and to engrave and print currency. One of the facilities where coins are minted is located in Denver, Colorado.

13. Defendant Mary Ellen Withrow is Treasurer of the United States. Defendant Withrow is authorized by law to sign United States currency.

CLAIM FOR RELIEF

14. Pursuant to 36 U.S.C. 186, the national motto of the United States is "In God We Trust."

15. Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 5112, Defendant Secretary of the Treasury Lloyd W. Bentsen is authorized to mint and issue coins. 31 U.S.C. 5112(d)(1) requires that United States coins have the inscription "In God We Trust." Based on information and belief, all United States coins minted and issued by Defendant Bentsen have such inscription.

16. Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 5114, Defendant Secretary of the Treasury Lloyd W. Bentsen is authorized to engrave and print United States currency. 31 U.S.C. 5114(b) requires that such currency have the inscription "In God We Trust." On information and belief, all United States currency engraved and printed by Defendant Bentsen has such inscription. Such currency bears the signature of Defendant Treasurer of the United States, Mary Ellen Withrow.

17. The statutes cited in Paragraphs 14 through 16 herein, and each of them, are laws respecting an establishment of religion in violation of Amendment One of the Constitution of the United States of America. Such laws (1) do not have a legitimate secular purpose, (2) have the principal or primary effect of advancing or endorsing religion, and/or (3) foster excessive government entanglement with religion.

18. The acts and practices of Defendants Bentsen and Withrow, in implementing the statutes cited in Paragraphs herein, are in violation of Amendment One of the Constitution of the United States of America in that they (1) do not have a legitimate secular purpose, (2) have the principal or primary effect of advancing or endorsing religion, and/or (3) foster excessive government entanglement with religion.

19. Defendants Bentsen and Withrow have a duty to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. Said Defendants have violated, and continue to violate, that duty by minting and issuing coins and by printing and signing currency inscribed with the phrase "In God We Trust."

20. Plaintiffs have standing because they are injured and because their right to a government which complies with the Constitution of the United States is violated. Plaintiffs are insulted and offended by the phrase "In God We Trust" as our national motto and by its inscription on United States coins and currency. Several Plaintiffs have altered their behavior as a result of the laws and practices complained of herein.

21. Individual Plaintiffs' rights as taxpayers are violated in that the practices complained of herein result in the expenditure of taxpayer funds and the use of taxpayer assets for unconstitutional purposes.

22. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. and its Colorado Chapter have standing because (a) their members otherwise have standing to sue in their own right, (b) the interests sought to be protected are germane to the Foundation and its Colorado Chapter, and (c) neither the claims asserted nor the relief requested require the participation of individual members.

Wherefore, Plaintiffs pray for relief and judgment as follows:

I. To declare that 36 U.S.C. 186 establishing "In God We Trust" as the national motto of the United States violates the Constitution of the United States of America;

II. To enjoin the Defendants from implementing 36 U.S.C. 186;

III. To declare that 31 U.S.C. 5112(d)(1) and 5114(b) and any other law which requires or permits the phrase "In God We Trust" to be inscribed on United States coin or currency violates the Constitution of the United States;

IV. To enjoin the Defendants from implementing 31 U.S.C. 5112(d)(1) and 5114(b) or any other law that requires or permits the phrase "In God We Trust" to be inscribed on United States coin or currency;

V. To enjoin the Defendants from inscribing, signing, or allowing their signatures to appear on any United States coin or currency which is inscribed with the phrase "In God We Trust";

VI. For costs, expert witness fees, and attorneys fees as may be allowed by law;

VII. For such other and further relief as the Court may deem proper.

Respectfully submitted,
Robert Tiernan
Attorney for the Plaintiffs



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