On Two Recent Court Decisions That Deal with 'In God We Trust' On U.S. Currency - Granite Grok

On Two Recent Court Decisions That Deal with ‘In God We Trust’ On U.S. Currency

Gavel-And-Scales-Of-Justice-570x381Two cases came down last week in separate circuit courts on the subject of the motto ‘In God We Trust’ as presented in various forms of US currency.

On May 28th, the 6th Circuit ruled that “In God We Trust” on US currency was not a burden to plaintiffs under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and dismissed their case. If you like to get into the weeds the decision makes for interesting reading.

The court’s examination could also be useful to Gov. Sununu as he prepares to sign trans legislation that could place an unreasonable burden on free speech, association, and possibly burden business owners in a way that could force the state into a lengthy legal challenge that is entirely unnecessary.

The second, also interesting and a much shorter read (again for wonks, bloggers, and other weirdos), came down on May 31st. The Court ruled that the satanist who brought the suit was not burdened in any way by the motto.

This last one is an amusing read as the court walks through all the stated burdens and dissects them. Ultimately, the Seventh Circuit rests on the premise that the Motto, not unlike other images or representations, is little more than a historical nod to the nation’s heritage, and, that no reasonable person accepting US Currency in any commercial transaction could reasonably think that the motto was proselytizing.

I can safely say, having engaged in the course of my life in tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of cash transaction, that it never once occurred to me that someone handing me cash or coins was trying to convert me to any religion (or vice-versa). In fact, until I read this decision, it had never occurred to me at all that anyone would even consider it as such.

It never crossed my mind. Never. Not even once.

And yet here we have two cases, decided within days of each other, where plaintiffs insisted it represented an establishment of religion.

The court(s) disagreed. With one exception. In the dissent to the Sixt Circuit Court opinion, one judge noted that,

Lots of transactions are cash only. And as the gov’t hasn’t produced a compelling reason why the phrase is necessary to further its goals (communicating “the fundamental values on which our system of government is founded” to the world), this suit should not have been dismissed.

I agree with that of its face, for what it is worth, but after having read both decisions, I don’t find it a compelling enough reason to advance their claims further and I do not believe the suits would have resulted in anything more than dismissal and a waste of a few more large buckets of taxpayer dollars (with the Motto on it or not).


H/T Volokh Conspiracy – Short Circuit