California attorney Michael Newdow [Restore The Pledge profile] filed suit [complaint, PDF] Monday in the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio seeking the removal of the phrase “In God We Trust” from US Currency. Newdow represents 49 plaintiffs, including organizations like Michigan Atheists and the Northern Ohio Freethought Society, as well as many unnamed plaintiffs, who oppose the use of the phrase on authoritative currency as offensive to their ideology. The complaint states that “‘In G-d We Trust’ clearly has a (Christian) monotheistic meaning [and] contributes to a culture that denigrates Atheism and Atheists” because of the group’s deeply held ideological views.
In 2006 Newdow brought a similar suit against the US government, arguing that the words “In God We Trust” on currency violated his rights under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The complaint was dismissed [JURIST report] by US District Judge Frank Damrell of the US District Court for the Eastern District of California [official website]. Damrell rejected Newdow’s argument that the 1977 US Supreme Court decision Wooley v. Maynard [opinion], a case that struck down a New Hampshire law requiring citizens to display license plates with the motto “live free or die” inscribed on them, supports his contention that citing God on US currency burdens his right to freely exercise his atheistic beliefs. In 2003 Newdow sued on behalf of his daughter [JURIST report] and argued that the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance violates the Establishment Clause. On appeal, however, the US Supreme Court dismissed the case [JURIST report], holding that Newdow lacked standing [decision] to bring the suit on behalf of his daughter.