An American atheist has failed in his legal challenge to have the words ‘In God We Trust’ removed from all US currency.
Michael Newdow, an activist lawyer, argued that Congress’s mandate to inscribe or print the national motto on all currency was a government endorsement of religion and a violation of First Amendment rights.
The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, but Newdow argued that currency marked in this way violated the sincerely-held beliefs of atheists and made them “political outsiders”.
The motto was first inscribed on American coins in 1864 in response to “increased religious sentiment”, and it became a requirement on paper notes in 1955.
Newdow has been working on his case since 2005, but the US Supreme Court rejected it without comment.
It had been previously struck down last year when a court of appeal ruled unanimously that the motto does not violate First Amendment rights.
Judges said the motto went back to the country’s founding, and that “no ‘reasonable observer’ would think that the Government is attempting to force citizens to express trust in God with every monetary transaction”.
Pledge of allegiance
The activist has failed in various other attempts to reinterpret the First Amendment.
In 2010, a different court of appeal ruled against his attempt to ban the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.
He has also unsuccessfully attempted to remove prayer and religious references from the presidential inaugurations of both George W Bush and Barack Obama.