We knew there were some decisions coming from the Supreme Court this week, but thus far the only interesting ones (to me at least) have resulted in decisions not to make decisions. First, it was the challenge to a federal law regulating suppressors, and now it’s the lawsuit from an atheist who wants “In God We Trust” removed from the nation’s currency. The court declined to hear the case, creating a dead end for that effort. (Fox News)
The Supreme Court rejected an atheist case Monday to remove “In God We Trust,” the national motto, from all coins and currency from the Department of Treasury.
Michael Newdow, the same activist attorney who tried to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, lost his case, arguing Congress’ mandate to inscribe “In God We Trust” on currency was a government endorsement of religion and a violation of the First Amendment…
The justices rejected his petition without comment.
Newdow has been knocking around for going on twenty years at this point and always pushing variations of the same schtick. He mostly represents atheists and he doesn’t want the word “God” invoked anywhere in association with the government, citing freedom from religion being every bit as important as freedom of religion in constitutional terms. Before trying to have “In God We Trust” struck from our money, he wanted “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. He’s also gone to court in attempts to forbid prayers, any sort of invocation or other religious references during the inaugural ceremonies for new presidents.
In principle, I suppose I can see how some atheists might get bent out of shape over this if they really chose to focus on it. But are anyone’s rights being violated by words on their money? The government isn’t telling anyone they have to follow a particular religion or forbidding them from doing so. Let’s keep in mind that the slogans invoke the word “God.” They’re not saying it specifically refers to Jesus. Pick any god you like. It could be Muhammad, Buddha, Mother Gaia, or whatever it is the Pastafarians are worshipping. Or no god at all. Heck, you can be your own god.
The point here is that in order to prevail against the government, I’m fairly sure that you have to be able to prove some damages. They don’t have to be physical damages, obviously. But Newdow would need to show that someone was being impacted by the words on the currency and having their own rights abridged. When it comes to the word “god” on the cash you give to your barista in the morning, I think the most you can say is that you’re offended, not impeded.
Newdow is obviously just out there trying to prove a point and I can appreciate that. He’s got a message about the separation of church and state that he’d like to see debated in public. Mission accomplished, sir, but you’ve yet to score a single victory at the Supreme Court in any of your efforts. I think this battle is done and you should probably pick a new cause to champion.