Press Releases

Federal Court Rules to Keep National Motto “In God We Trust” on U.S. Currency

American Legion filed brief defending National Motto, supporting federal government’s motion to dismiss

December 1, 2016

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, December 1, 2016 – Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio dismissed a lawsuit against the federal government demanding the removal of the National Motto, “In God We Trust,” from U.S. currency. In the opinion, the court dismissed the Plaintiffs’ claims that the use of the National Motto on currency violates their rights to free exercise, free speech, and equal protection. Read the opinion.

After a group of atheists, humanists and others filed a lawsuit against the federal government demanding the removal of the phrase “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency, First Liberty Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of The American Legion (the largest veterans service organization in America with over 2 million members) defending the National Motto in the case of New Doe Child #1 v. The Congress of the United States. Read the brief.

Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty Institute, says, “We’re grateful that the court upheld the federal government’s ability to display our National Motto on our currency. Federal courts have repeatedly upheld the National Motto as constitutional. ‘In God We Trust’ is deeply embedded in our nation’s history and is a symbol of patriotism.”

Justin Butterfield, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute, says, “The National Motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ appears on government buildings across the country, including the House and Senate Chambers. Banning the National Motto from our currency would have been egregious, and the court ruled correctly in dismissing the lawsuit.”

In the brief, the attorneys said, “The American Legion believes that our National Motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ itself originating in Francis Scott Key’s poem that would become ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and honoring the courage and valor of our service members who defended Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, is a fitting and solemnizing motto for this nation. The American Legion has, therefore—as recognized even in Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint—regularly advocated for the recognition and honor of our National Motto as well as its history and heritage.”

About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Christine Tang, Associate Counsel for First Liberty Institute. Email:, Direct: 469-440-7601, Cell: 469-562-9484. 

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