San Francisco, CA
Motions have been filed in the Ninth Circuit to rehear the cases challenging the national motto – In God We Trust – as well as the pledge of allegiance. Last month the Court, in 2-1 decisions, found both to be constitutional. Citing the case as one of exceptional importance, Michael Newdow is asking for an en banc review by the appellate court. Unlike other circuits, in the Ninth Circuit, an en banc panel consists of eleven judges chosen at random.
In his moving papers, Dr. Newdow describes Atheists as “the nation’s most stigmatized suspect class[.]” He further writes that “‘In God We Trust’ facially endorses the controversial, purely religious notion that there exists a God whom Americans embrace.”
“Whether the Court grants the motion or not, we are confident that ultimately both the motto and the pledge will survive judicial review,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute. “From its inception continuing to the present, there has been consistent official acknowledgement of the existence of God. This simple recognition is not the establishment of religion which the constitution forbids,” Dacus continued. The Pacific Justice Institute intervened as a defendant organization and fully participated in the litigation of the national motto. Kevin Snider, PJI’s chief counsel, argued the case along with Lowell Sturgill of the U.S. Department of Justice, before the appellate court. PJI also filed a friend of the court brief in support of the pledge. PJI affiliate attorney, Pete Lepiscopo of San Diego, authored the amicus brief.