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Bar Buzz: In God We Trust' is OK on cash.

Byline: Kevin Featherly

God, it appears, has the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on her side.

The court on Tuesday affirmed a ruling from Minneapolis U.S. District Court Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright, holding that it is OK to inscribe the national motto, "In God We Trust," onto U.S. coins and currency. The ruling upholds Wright's decision to grant the feds a dismissal motion in the case.

The motto does not violate the U.S. Constitution's establishment clause, Court of Appeals judges Raymond Gruender, C. Arlen Beam and Jane L. Kelly ruled in affirming Wright. Plaintiffs also failed to state a claim under the Constitution's free-speech clause, the panel ruled.

The case, New Doe Child #1 v. United States, was filed by 27 atheists or children of atheists, along with two organizations, all of whom "definitely do not trust in God," the opinion states. They originally sued the federal government and officials from the U.S. Mint, U.S. Treasury, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to get the motto nixed.

Plaintiffs claimed that federal law mandating the money motto violates the First Amendment's establishment, free speech and free exercise clauses, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Fifth Amendment's equal protection clause.

Across the board, the appeals panel disagreed. Traditional use of the phrase on money comports with the establishment clause's original understanding, they ruled. It does not create any express or implied classifications, or compel anyone to express a particular message, they concluded.

"Even assuming disparate impact, we have already determined that there is no evidence suggesting that the inclusion of the motto on U.S. coins and currency was motivated by a desire to discriminate against atheists," their opinion states.

"Rather," it adds, "we find that placing the motto on money is rationally related to the government's legitimate goal of honoring religion's role in American life and in the protection of fundamental rights."

So you can keep the faithon your cash, at least.


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Publication:Minnesota Lawyer
Date:Aug 30, 2018
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