New Law to Require Motto Display

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Columbus, OH – Governor Bob Taft recently signed into law a bill requiring all public and community schools to display any donated copies of the national motto, “In God We Trust” and the state motto, “With God, All Things Are Possible.” The bill passed the Senate vote in May and Governor Taft signed on the earliest possible date. The bill requires public schools and charter schools using state money to display copies of the mottos if they are donated for use in a classroom, auditorium or cafeteria.

Both mottos have already withstood court challenges claiming that use of such phrases violates the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. If challenged, it is unlikely that the law would be found unconstitutional, especially when appeals courts are regularly upholding public displays of the Ten Commandments.

Three federal courts of appeal have upheld displays of the Ten Commandments in public buildings in the past year, including the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which governs Ohio. That court also upheld, in ACLU of Kentucky v. Mercer County, Kentucky, the Foundations of American Law and Government display, which Liberty Counsel defended. In Elkhart County, Indiana v. Books, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the same Ten Commandments display, which Liberty Counsel defended. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals also upheld a stand-alone Ten Commandments monument.

Liberty Counsel President Anita L. Staver commented: “Public displays of our national motto, ‘In God We Trust’, and state mottos with religious themes are constitutional. Acknowledgement of our religious heritage is not an establishment of religion. Patriotism should be encouraged in schools, and part of patriotism is learning about this great nation, including our national motto.”

Reprinted with permission of the Liberty Counsel.