[Congressional Record Volume 148, Number 105 (Monday, July 29, 2002)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1437-E1438]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                         HON. STEVEN R. ROTHMAN

                             of new jersey

                    in the house of representatives

                         Friday, July 26, 2002

  Mr. ROTHMAN. Mr. Speaker, as we are all aware, the Ninth Circuit 
Court of Appeals recently held that the Pledge of Allegiance is 
unconstitutional because the phrase ``under God,'' combined with daily 
recitation of the Pledge, violates the establishment clause of the 
Constitution. Following their victory, the plaintiffs vowed to 
challenge the motto, ``In God We Trust,'' which appears on American 
currency. Fair Lawn, New Jersey Mayor and numismatic expert David L. 
Ganz recently published an article in the Numismatic News that analyzes 
why ``In God We Trust'' was chosen as the national motto, and why it 
should remain on our currency. With the chair's permission, I would 
like to submit this article, entitled ``In God We Trust Threatened by 
Pledge Suit,'' for the Record. I also urge the members of this body to 
support the current Pledge of Allegiance and the continued use of ``In 
God We Trust'' on our nation's currency.

               [From the Numismatic News, July 16, 2002]

      `In God We Trust' Threatened by Pledge Suit--Under the Glass

                           (By David L. Ganz)

       Front-page news and accompanying legislative denunciations 
     have greeted the decision of the United States Court of 
     Appeals for the 9th Circuit that the nation, ``under God,'' 
     indivisible, in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. 
     The successful plaintiffs have separately pledged to initiate 
     an attack on the national motto, ``In God we Trust'' to 
     remove it from U.S. currency.
       Although the motto has been attacked several times in other 
     appellate courts--the Supreme Court has never explicitly 
     ruled on it--there is some question as to what success this 
     might have, and the consequences to coin and paper money 
       Involved is the case of Newdow v. U.S. Congress, 00-16423 
     (9th Cir. June 26, 2002), which was decided by the appellate 
     court that covers California and much of the American West, 
     comprising 20 percent of the nation's population and about a 
     third of its area and natural resources.
       Newdow, an avowed athiest, brought the suit because his 
     young daughter attends a public elementary school in the Elk 
     Grove Unified School District in California. In accordance 
     with state law and a school district rule, teachers begin 
     each school day by leading their students in a recitation of 
     the Pledge of Allegiance.
       Young Miss Newdow is not required to say the pledge; that 
     was decided some 60 years ago when the case of West Virginia 
     v. Barnette, a 1943 decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court 
     prohibited compulsory flag salutes. Her father's objection 
     was that she was intimidated by listening to it, at all.
       On June 22, 1942, Congress first codified the Pledge in 
     Public Law 642 as ``I pledge allegiance to the flag of the 
     United States of America and to the Republic for which it 
     stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for 
     all.'' (The codification is found in 36 U.S.C. Sec. 1972.)
       A dozen years later, on June 14, 1954, Congress amended 
     Section 1972 to add the words ``under God'' after the word 
     ``Nation'' (Pub. L. No. 396, Ch. 297 68 Stat. 249 (1954) 
     (``1954 Act'')). The Pledge is currently codified as ``I 
     pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of 
     America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation 
     under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all'' (4 
     U.S.C. Sec. 4 (1998)).
       The following year, 1955, largely at the instigation of 
     Matt Rothert, later president of the American Numismatic 
     Association, Congress amended the U.S. Code to require the 
     national motto to be placed on all coins and currency. 
     (Earlier, Congress took action to place the motto on the two-
     cent piece (1864), and on some gold coins (1908)).
       There is some utility in reviewing what the Pledge of 
     Allegiance is, and for that matter, the history of the 
     national motto, ``In God we Trust,'' where the ``we'' is not 
     capitalized and all other letters are.
       Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister with socialist 
     leanings, wrote the original version of the Pledge of 
     Allegiance Sept. 8, 1892, for a popular family magazine, The 
     Youth's Companion, a Reader's Digest-like periodical of the 
       The original pledge language was ``I pledge allegiance to 
     my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, 
     indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.''
       A generation later, in 1923 the pledge was adopted by the 
     first National Flag Conference in Washington, where some 
     participants expressed concerns that use of the words ``my 
     flag'' might create confusion for immigrants, still thinking 
     of their home countries. So the wording was changed to ``the 
     Flag of the United States of America.'' In 1954, Congress 
     after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus added the words, 
     ``under God,'' to the Pledge. The Pledge was now both a 
     patriotic oath and a public prayer.
       Legislation approved July 11, 1955, made the appearance of 
     ``In God we Trust'' mandatory on all coins and paper currency 
     of the United States. By Act of July 30, 1956, ``In God we 
     Trust'' became the national motto of the United States.
       Several courts have been asked to construe whether or not 
     the motto was unconstitutional and a violation of the First 
     Amendment to the Constitution--freedom of religion arguments 
     being raised.
       In a 10th circuit Court of Appeals case arising in 
     Colorado, Gaylor v. US, 74 F.3d 214 (10th Cir. 1996), the 
     Court quoted a number of Supreme Court precedents and 

[[Page E1438]]

     that, ``The motto's primary effect is not to advance 
     religion; instead, it is a form of `ceremonial deism' which 
     through historical usage and ubiquity cannot be reasonably 
     understood to convey government approval of religious 
       As neat a package as that creates for concluding the 
     controversy, that is simply not the history of the motto ``In 
     God we Trust'' or how it found its way onto American coinage. 
     That story goes back to the bleak days of the Civil War, when 
     the nation's constitutional mettle was being tested on the 
     battlefields that left hundreds of thousands of Americans 
       From the records of the Treasury Department, it appears 
     that the first suggestion of the recognition of the deity on 
     the coins of the United States was contained in a letter 
     addressed to the Secretary of the Treasury, Hon. S.P. Chase, 
     by the Rev. M.R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel, 
     Ridleyville, Pa., under date of Nov. 13, 1861.
       ``One fact touching our currency has hitherto been 
     seriously overlooked, I mean the recognition of the Almighty 
     God in some form in our coins,'' Watkinson wrote to Secretary 
       ``You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were 
     now shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the 
     antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our 
     past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that 
     instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside 
     the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words `perpetual 
     union'; within this ring the all-seeing eye, crowned with a 
     halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its 
     field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the 
     folds of the bars the words `God, liberty, law.'
       ``This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible 
     citizens could object. This would relieve us from the 
     ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the 
     Divine protection we have personally claimed.
       ``From my heart I have felt our national shame in disowning 
     God as not the least of our present national disasters. To 
     you first I address a subject that must be agitated,'' he 
       A week later, on Nov. 20, 1861, Chase wrote to James 
     Pollock, the director of the Mint, ``No nation can be strong 
     except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. 
     The trust of our people in God should be declared on our 
     national coins.''
       He concluded with a mandate: ``You will cause a device to 
     be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing 
     in the fewest and terset words possible this national 
       In December 1863, the director of the Mint submitted to the 
     secretary of the Treasury for approval designs for new one-, 
     two- and three-cent pieces, on which it was proposed that one 
     of the following mottoes should appear: ``Our country; our 
     God''; ``God, our Trust.'' (Patterns for the two-cent pieces 
     of this are found in Pollack 370-383.)
       Dec. 9, 1863, saw this reply from Chase: ``I approve your 
     mottoes, only suggesting that on that with the Washington 
     obverse the motto should begin with the word `Our' so as to 
     read: `Our God and our country.' And on that with the shield, 
     it should be changed so as to read: `In God we trust.' ''
       The Act of April 22, 1864, created the two-cent piece and 
     Secretary Chase exercised his rights to make sure the motto 
     was in the design. By 1866 it had been added to the gold $5, 
     $10 and $20, and the silver dollar, half dollar, quarter and 
       As Augustus Saint-Gaudens designed the new gold coinage of 
     1907 at the instigation of his friend President Theodore 
     Roosevelt, the motto was removed for the reason that 
     ``Teddy'' thought it blasphemous. Congress responded by 
     legislatively directing its continuation.
       Where all this leads in the 21st century remains an 
     unknown--but an interesting hypothesis can be derived. The 
     9th Circuit's ``Pledge of Allegiance'' case will be appealed 
     to the U.S. Supreme Court, and likely as not, the ``In God we 
     Trust'' elimination suit will progress in the U.S. district 
       As Justice William O. Douglas noted in a concurring opinion 
     in the 1962 Supreme Court case Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 
     (1962), ``Our Crier has from the beginning announced the 
     convening of the Court and then added `God save the United 
     States and this Honorable Court.' That utterance is a 
     supplication, a prayer in which we, the judges, are free to 
       Justice Douglas, one of the most liberal in first amendment 
     views, saw little the matter with it. Indeed, he said, ``What 
     New York does on the opening of its public schools is what 
     each House of Congress does at the opening of each day's 
       The 9th Circuit, by contrast, says ``The Pledge, as 
     currently codified, is an impermissible government 
     endorsement of religion because it sends a message to 
     unbelievers `that they are outsiders, not full members of the 
     political community, and an accompanying message to adherents 
     that they are insiders, favored members of the political 
     community.' ''
       An earlier 9th Circuit case in 1970 which dealt with a 
     direct attack on the motto on the coinage was briefly 
     discussed in a footnote of the lengthy opinion. ``In Aronow 
     v. United States, 432 F.2d 242 (9th Cir. 1970), this court, 
     without reaching the question of standing, upheld the 
     inscription of the phrase `In God We Trust' on our coins and 
     currency. But cf. Wooley v. Maryland, 430 U.S. 705, 722 
     (1977) (Rehnquist, J., dissenting) (stating that the 
     majority's holding leads logically to the conclusion that `In 
     God We Trust' is an unconstitutional affirmation of 
       Nothwithstanding Justice Rehnquist's dissent, a more 
     contemporary analysis of his views are more apparent in later 
     cases since his becoming Chief Justice, and they suggest 
     strongly that he has no issue with the pledge or the national 
     motto on coinage.
       Most likely, the next several months will see a hardening 
     of positions and a wending process in which the lawsuit, and 
     appeals, move toward highest court resolution. That could 
     come in 2003 or 2004, in time for it to have impact on the 
     next presidential election.
       For now, until a stay is issued, the pledge is out in 
     California and the 9th Circuit; God remains on our coinage, 
     so long as we trust.