U.S. Supreme Court Turns Down Foundation Appeal

The United States Supreme Court has denied the Freedom From Religion Foundation's petition for a writ of certiorari in the "In God We Trust" lawsuit.

The court order was handed down on May 17.

Foundation plaintiffs had sought to establish that "In God We Trust" is a religious motto and should not appear on U.S. currency and coins.

"It is odd that the Court acted so fast," said Foundation attorney Robert R. Tiernan, "considering that there was a motion on file from the Solicitor General to extend the time to file a reply to late June. I guess the Court just couldn't wait to be on record siding with the heavenly father!"

As far as the Foundation has been able to determine, the United States is the only country in the world with a religious motto on its money.

The Foundation had sought a trial to introduce its obvious and practical evidence that, in overwhelming numbers, the U.S. public regards "In God We Trust" as a religious phrase, and that Congress enacted the 1955 law with religious intent.

The lawsuit was dismissed at all levels without the opportunity for "a day in court."

Joining the Foundation and its Denver chapter as individual plaintiffs were Colorado residents Glenn V. Smith, Lora Attwood and Jeff Baysinger."In God We Trust" Appealed to High Court

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review its "In God We Trust" case. Robert Tiernan, Foundation counsel, filed the appeal on April 19, 1996.

The Foundation's lawsuit challenges the religious motto which now appears on all coins and paper currency.

"The District Court dismissed our complaint without trial," Tiernan said. "That court said that 'In God We Trust' is a form of 'ceremonial deism,' that it does not constitute prohibited government endorsement of religion. We're maintaining that it was wrong for the plaintiffs to be denied a trial in this important constitutional challenge."

The Federal Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the District Court decision.

"Our appeal will ask that the U.S. Supreme Court remand the case for trial and give the parties a full opportunity to present their evidence," Tiernan said.

Prior to filing the lawsuit the Foundation had a national survey conducted which showed that the motto is regarded as religious by an overwhelming number of U.S. citizens.

"The motto obviously is an enhancement of religion," said Anne Nicol Gaylor, Foundation president. "And its lack of accuracy should bother any court. To be accurate the motto would have to say 'In God some of us trust.' All of us could subscribe to the old motto which we never should have given up. E pluribus unum--from many come one--is what the United States is all about. It is a fact.

"In addition we are believed to be the only country in the world with a religious exhortation on money. And yet we are the democracy with a commitment to separation of church and state.

"Perhaps the Supreme Court will see the inconsistencies or at least recognize that we should have our day in court."

In February a federal judge in Chicago ruled that a sign on an Illinois county courthouse reading "The World Needs God" violated the First Amendment.

"Putting 'God' on money that all of us must use certainly seems like a more pervasive violation," Gaylor said.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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