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posted by ajf on 2006-06-14 at 11:49 pm

U.S. court tosses lawsuit over "In God We Trust":

A U.S. district court judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit brought by a California atheist against the U.S. government for its use of the phrase "In God We Trust" on its coins and currency.

Michael Newdow, the Sacramento, California lawyer and doctor who had previously launched a court challenge on behalf of his daughter over the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance said in schools, had argued that "In God We Trust" on monetary instruments violates his rights.

Newdow claimed that by using coins and currency bearing the phrase, he is forced to carry religious dogma, proselytise and evangelise for monotheism.

Michael Newdow is an idiot.

But it gets worse:

Judge Frank Damrell of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California held in his opinion that "In God We Trust" is secular in nature and use, and its appearance on coins and currency does not show government coercion on behalf of monotheism.

So I find myself wondering who is the bigger idiot: Newdow, for coming up with this stunt, or the judge, who claims that "In God We Trust" is a secular statement?

But I'm wrong: it's not Damrell who calls "In God We Trust" secular. Read the judgement (if you can be bothered trying; it's a PDF and they only keep them for 30 days) and you'll see that Damrell merely points out that the same question was asked of the Ninth Circuit Court over thirty years ago. (He also points out that a number of the claims made by Newdow have already been rejected by the courts, frequently in cases bearing Newdow's own name. Oh, and Newdow calls himself "The Reverend Doctor Michael A Newdow", of the "First Amendmist Church of True Science (FACTS)". It's safe to say that Newdow is the idiot.)

So maybe the Reuters staff writer is an idiot, for describing this dismissal of some kook's complaint that was no different to one rejected in 1970 as a new decision, rather than an invocation of precedent.

But mostly I'm an idiot, for thinking this was actually worth blogging about.

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