Monday, November 20, 2006

In God We Trust

San Francisco, CA - Today, Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief in the case of Newdow v. United States Congress with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Atheist Michael A. Newdow suit claims that the national motto, "In God We Trust" violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Newdow lost at the district court and the case is now on appeal. Newdow's previous suit to remove "Under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance was unsuccessful.In 1865, Congress passed an act placing "In God We Trust" on all coins. The motto has been used on paper money since 1957. The constitutionality of the motto was challenged in 1970 in Aronow v. United States, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the phrase "has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion". In 1979, atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair also unsuccessfully challenged the motto in the case of O'Hair v. Blumenthal.Although the District Court ruled against Newdow on the merits, Liberty Counsel's brief argues that the District Court improperly applied the standing rules when it found Newdow had standing to bring the suit in the first place. In order to have "standing" a person must have sufficient connection to and harm caused by whatever the person is challenging. In the brief, Liberty Counsel argues that the District Court "stretched precedents beyond the breaking point to find that Newdow had standing to challenge the national motto because the word 'God' offended him." In doing so, the court usurped its very limited role as adjudicator of legal rights to become a creator of legal rights, thus blurring the lines between the legislature and judiciary.Permitting a citizen to sue merely because the person is offended by religious words goes far beyond the intent of the First Amendment. Passive words cannot establish a religion. If Michael Newdow is permitted to proceed with his claim, then the court would become a 'bully pulpit' for any malcontent. American was founded upon religious principals and the belief in God. How can the mere expression of our American heritage establish a religion? Such a thought is preposterous.