Atheist sues to get 'In God we trust' off coins
Nov. 19, 2005 12:00 AM
SAN FRANCISCO - An atheist who has spent four years
trying to ban the Pledge of Allegiance from being
recited in public schools is now challenging the motto
printed on U.S. currency because it refers to God.
Michael Newdow seeks to remove "In God we trust" from
U.S. coins and dollar bills, claiming in a federal
lawsuit filed Thursday that the motto is an
unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
Newdow, a Sacramento doctor and lawyer, used a similar
argument when he challenged the Pledge of Allegiance
in public schools because it contains the words "under
He took his pledge fight to the U.S. Supreme Court,
which in 2004 said he lacked standing to bring the
case because he did not have custody of the daughter
he sued on behalf of.
An identical lawsuit later brought by Newdow on behalf
of parents with children in three Sacramento-area
school districts is pending with the 9th Circuit Court
of Appeals, after a Sacramento federal judge sided
with Newdow in September. The judge stayed enforcement
of the decision pending appeal, which is expected to
reach the Supreme Court.
"The placement of 'In God we Trust' on the coins and
currency was clearly done for religious purposes and
to have religious effects," Newdow wrote in his
His latest lawsuit came five days after the U.S.
Supreme Court rejected, without comment, a challenge
to an inscription of "In God we trust" on a North
Carolina county government building.
The justices upheld the Richmond, Va.-based 4th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that "In God we
trust" is a U.S. motto.