Freedom of Religion

Divided Sixth Circuit Panel Rejects Legal Challenge to "In God We Trust"

Judges split on whether printing "In God We Trust" on currency imposes a substantial burden under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Today, in New Doe Child #1 v. Congress of the United States, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dismissed a series of challenges to printing the National Motto "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency. As Judge Stranch (joined by Judge Norris) explained the case:

Atheists, Humanists, and one Jewish Plaintiff challenge the federal statutes requiring inscription of the National Motto, "In God We Trust," on U.S. currency. Plaintiffs allege that the currency statutes cause them to bear, affirm, and proselytize an objectionable message in a way that, for the Atheist and Humanist Plaintiffs, violates their core religious beliefs, and, for the Jewish Plaintiff, renders him complicit in the sins of superfluously printing God's name and destroying God's printed name. Plaintiffs claim that the statutes violate their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Although all three judges concluded the plaintiffs had standing to bring their claim, they also unanimously rejected the constitutional claims as pleaded, and upheld the district court's dismissal of the case. The statutory claim was another matter.

Dissenting from her colleagues, Judge Moore concluded that several dozen of the plaintiffs had met their burden of showing a "substantial burden" on their practice of religion under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Judge Moore began her dissent as follows:

The national motto, and its inclusion on American money, is of relatively recent vintage. The first phrase inscribed on American currency was "Mind Your Business"; it appeared on the continental dollar and then on the fugio cent. William Van Alstyne, Trends in the Supreme Court: Mr. Jefferson's Crumbling Wall—A Comment on Lynch v. Donnelly, 1984 DUKE L.J. 770, 774. "In God We Trust" did not appear on the currency until the Civil War, when it was imprinted on coins. B. Jessie Hill, Of Christmas Trees and Corpus Christi: Ceremonial Deism and Change in Meaning Over Time, 59 DUKE L.J. 705, 707–08 (2010). Congress mandated that the phrase be included on all U.S. coins and bills in 1955, Act of July 11, 1955, Pub. L. No. 84-140 (1955), and subsequently adopted the phrase as the national motto in 1956, Act of July 30, 1956, Pub. L. No. 84-851 (1956).

In their first claim, the plaintiffs argue that the inscription of the national motto "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins and bills substantially burdens their exercise of religion in violation of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act of 1993 ("RFRA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb et seq. All but four of the plaintiffs have sufficiently pleaded factual allegations demonstrating that the inscription substantially burdens their religion and have thus pleaded a plausible violation of RFRA. I would, therefore, reverse the district court's grant of the government's Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss Claim 1 with respect to these thirty-nine plaintiffs.

According to Moore, the plaintiffs were able to show that the current policy imposes a substantial burden on their religious beliefs and, at least as for purposes of a motion to dismiss, the government had failed to demonstrate that printing "In God We Trust" on currency is a narrowly tailored means of furthering a compelling government interest. Unsurprisingly, Judge Moore relies upon the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision in her opinion.

Here's a taste of Judge Moore's analysis:

[T]here is a substantial burden when there is either de facto or de jure coercion on an individual to choose between violating her religious beliefs or facing serious consequences. See Hobby Lobby, 133 S. Ct. at 2783. In this case, the plaintiffs allege that the government's inclusion of the national motto on coins and bills "force[s] Plaintiffs to choose between either relinquishing their rights to participate in much of their everyday commerce (by using the nation's monetary instruments) or violating their religious beliefs.". . . The Supreme Court has held that "RFRA was enacted to prevent" the government from "effectively exclud[ing] . . . [individuals] from full participation in the economic life of the Nation." Hobby Lobby, 133 S. Ct. at 2783. Exclusion from full participation in the economy is exactly what the plaintiffs argue is occurring here. There are transactions that are entirely cash-only (e.g. cash-only businesses, parking meters, tolls, vending machines) and there are individuals whose participation in economic transactions is limited solely to using coins and bills (e.g. children and adults who cannot access credit or bank accounts). If use of coins and bills violates an individual's religious beliefs, then there is a substantial burden if they must use coins and bills in order to participate fully in "the economic life of the Nation." . . .

The government argues that the national motto's "inscription on U.S. coins and currency is central to the public proclamation of the fundamental political values the Motto represents." Appellee Br. at 31. The government claims that its interest in the inscription of the national motto on U.S. coins and bills is compelling because it "is one of the primary means by which Congress communicates, for the benefit of U.S. citizens and to the broader world, the fundamental values on which our system of government is founded." Appellee Br. at 31. The government provides no evidence buttressing its claim about the primacy of the role U.S. coins and bills play in transmitting a message from Congress to U.S. citizens and others. Furthermore, the plaintiffs vigorously contest the validity of the government's assertions. Appellant Br. at 33. Consequently, there are no undisputed facts conclusively establishing that the government has a compelling interest in inscribing "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins and bills.

Even if the government were able to establish such a compelling interest, it has failed to demonstrate that the inscription is the least restrictive means of achieving this compelling interest. The government argues that the placement of the national motto on U.S. coins and bills is the least restrictive means to further its compelling governmental interest because no other phrase is the national motto. Appellee Br. at 33. This argument sidesteps the compelling interest the government has asserted. The compelling interest, as articulated by the government, is not simply having the national motto inscribed on coins and bills. Rather, it claims that the compelling governmental interest is having coins and bills function as a "primary means by which Congress communicates . . . the fundamental values on which our system of government is founded." Appellee Br. at 31. Thus, the national motto is not the least restrictive means of achieving this alleged compelling interest because Congress could still use coins and bills as such an advertising device without using the specific phrase "In God We Trust" or any other religiously inflected phrase that imposes a substantial burden on users of U.S. coins and bills.

Given the standard for RFRA claims the Supreme Court set forth in Hobby Lobby, these are serious arguments. As statutory claims, however, they could be easily extinguished by Congress. Although I don't expect this case to attract four votes for certiorari at One First Street, if it did (and is the plaintiffs were to prevail), I would expect Congress to exempt currency from RFRA rather quickly.

NEXT: Another Devastating Review of "Democracy in Chains"

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  1. So if someone went to an atheist baker and asked him to make a cake representing a U.S. quarter with the words “In God We Trust” written on it in icing to be served at a party for the successful completion of a church building fund drive, could he refuse?

    1. “,”

      Here’s the comma I left out.

    2. I’m an atheist and I would bake the cake the way it was ordered, Most of atheists us would. Most atheists share a problem with most Christian conservatives and most African-Americans — our most prominent voices are assholes that disgrace us,

      The libertarian solution would allow the store to refuse service for any reason … if the store owners post that refusal in a highly visible location. So I can refuse to do business with them. Gary Johnson was exactly correct, that an exemption based on religious beliefs only has nothing to do with liberty, or individual rights or even logic.

      If you’re open for business, you’re open for business — seems fair as the rule.

      1. Gary Johnson and his Libertarians for Compulsory Baking should meet up with whoever is the head of Hindus for Mouth-Watering Beefsteak, and Catholics for a Free Choice.

        1. …and Jain Pest Control, Inc.

        2. Why did you lie about what I said .. and what Gary said?
          Why do you defend special rights based on religion only, in a nation founded on Separation?
          Please consider supporting equal rights for all.

          1. Oh, go and try to explain it away if you can:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COItiKtHWyg

            1. “Does a public bakery have to sell a cake to a Nazi? Probably so. Does that bakery have to draw a swastika on it? Absolutely not. And that’s the way it should be.”

              https://bit.ly/2IU5Kuy

              My phrase was “compulsory baking.” Johnson was for compulsory baking.

              Maybe Johnson was lying about his own position?

              1. Maybe Johnson was lying about his own position?

                You lied about the debate video, where he explicitly explained it as opposing a special privilege based on religion only.

                Does anyone claim a RELIGIOUS Exemption regarding swastikas?

                He’s no coward like you, when you refuse to defend your position”
                “Why do you defend special rights based on religion only, in a nation founded on Separation?
                Please consider supporting equal rights for all.”

            2. You lied about what I said, and lied about what Gary said. And your own video proves me correct, opposing a standard based on religion only.

              More proof that you’re wrong. This is a detailed description on his op-ed invited by Deseret News, It’s disgraceful how some libertarians lie about this.

              One more time:
              Why do you defend special rights based on religion only, in a nation founded on Separation?
              Please consider supporting equal rights for all.

            3. Oh, go and try to explain it away if you can:

              I can. And I did.
              But you refuse to defend your position by answering my simple question.

              1. You seem a bit rhetorically overheated.

                Perhaps you could be so kind as to quote my “lies.”

                1. Johnson (Johnson by name, but at least he’s not Johnson by nature, if you know what I mean) said this in his editorial, endorsing the “Utah Compromise.”

                  “The Utah compromise barred discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered individuals in employment and housing. In addition, the Utah law requires the office of every county clerk to be available to solemnize same-sex unions. At the same time, the law provides reasonable protections for the freedoms of speech and association of bona fide religious organizations ? and made the religious and LGBT protections inseverable.

                  “It is a Utah solution that appropriately reflects the state’s diverse and strongly held freedoms ? and was supported by the LDS Church and the state’s leading LGBT groups.”

                  OK, so a baker can discriminate on religious grounds if he’s doing his baking as part of a “bona fide religious organization.”

                  Which would do nothing at all for the bakers who were harassed and fined by Johnson’s “libertarian” policies.

                  At least you and he get to bask in the admiration of non-libertarians. And to engage in Tourette’s style cursing.

                  1. Hmmm…the law doesn’t deal with public accommodations at all, according to this –

                    https://thebea.st/2sq4Iv6

                    “The law applies only to employment and housing settings; atypically, Utah law does not ban discrimination in so-called public accommodations, which took off the table the big and contentious set of “bake my cake” controversies involving florists and other wedding providers.”

                    Why were you suggesting that this had anything to do with public accommodations?

                    1. “Why do you defend special rights based on religion only, in a nation founded on Separation?”

                      Now the First Amendment provides “special rights”? Thank you for putting those homophobic Founders in their place.

                    2. “Why do you defend special rights based on religion only, in a nation founded on Separation?”

                      Now the First Amendment provides “special rights”?

                      No.
                      Fourth repeat: a special exemption based on religion, common on the right.

                      Libertarians oppose public accomodation laws for everyone equally.
                      You oppose them ONLY for SOME religious people — and fail to defend it (because you cannot)

                      “Why do you defend special rights based on religion only, in a nation founded on Separation?”

                    3. Perhaps you forget that 1st Amendment starts with: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”

                      So YES, you claim the government can make laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion then claim that it is a “special exemption (i.e. special rights) to the law based on religion”.

                      BTW: Johnson is a Progressive that left the GOP because the Progressive controlled GOPe wasn’t ready to be exposed.

                    4. Why were you suggesting that this had anything to do with public accommodations?

                      And Utah says “bake my cake” is public accommodations.

                      Do you read anything that you cite.
                      .

                  2. You cite from the link I gave you, IGNORE what he said about cake baking, and claim a different section means what you ignored him saying.

                    And have refused to answer this question five times
                    “Why do you defend special rights based on religion only, in a nation founded on Separation?Please consider supporting equal rights for all.”

                2. You seem a bit rhetorically overheated.

                  By linking to proof that you’re wrong? (gasp)

                  Perhaps you could be so kind as to quote my “lies.”

                  I did.

                  One more time:
                  Why do you defend special rights based on religion only, in a nation founded on Separation? Please consider supporting equal rights for all.

                  1. Wait, you’re the commenter known on Hit & Run as Michael Hihn, aren’t you?

                    1. This is my 3rd or 4th day at Reason. I don’t know his name. Does he also expect you to answer questions instead of repeating the same “argument?”

                    2. If you’re not him, the two of you were probably separated at birth.

                      Same anger, same wild accusations against others, same use of boldface, same parenthetical (exclamations!).

                    3. SEVENTH request
                      Why do you defend special rights based on religion only, in a nation founded on Separation? Please consider supporting equal rights for all.

                    4. SEVENTH request
                      Why do you defend special rights based on religion only, in a nation founded on Separation? Please consider supporting equal rights for all.

                      Boldface so you can hear me.

                    5. I already explained I support the First Amendment, and if you want to call that a “special right”…then BLESS YOUR HEART!

                    6. Lies about the issue.
                      CANNOT justify special exemptions based on religion, in a nation founded on separation.

                      Libertarians oppose public accomodation laws for everyone equally.
                      You oppose them ONLY for SOME religious people — and fail to defend it (because you cannot)

                      Which is why the alt-right hates libertarians.

                      (boldface in response to repeated harassment)

                    7. Come on, fess up, you’re “Michael Hihn,” there can’t be (shudder) two of you, can there?

                    8. There’s a lot more than two who won’t put up with your bullshit, evasions and denials

                    9. I think you’re right, Hihn has opened a new user ID.

                    10. Fuck off Hihn-slaver.

                    11. He/she/it acts no different than High, definitely showing his/hers/its ass!

                    12. Why do so many claim that freedom of and from religion is superior to equal rights for all? Or that ANY right justifies the Christian Taliban being traitors?

                      **Eidde Traitor

                      ** Brett Bellmore Traitor

                      ** VinniUSMC Traitor

                      ** FlameCCT Traitor

                      Just in this thread. Many other anti-liberty authoritarians elsewhere on this page

          2. Doesn’t the Constitution give special protection for religion?

            1. Against the government. The issue is whether we should have statutory protections for religious people from private discrimination. You all can see that’s what is being asked, and your attempted dodges to his direct question evidences cowardice. Just answer the man. If you think the Constitution’s First Amendment should extend to private actors, just say so.

              1. The issue is whether the government may or should grant special exemptions from the government’s requirements on private actors which impose burdens on those private actor’s religious exercise. The fact that the First Amendment grants special protections for individuals’ religious exercise is, I think, suggestive of the fact that doing so does not violate the Constitution.

                1. It is not settled law if there are applications of RFRA that violate the Establishment Clause, although it is settled that facially it does not.

                2. “The issue is whether the government may or should grant special exemptions from the government’s requirements…”

                  And he’s asking if you think antidiscrimination laws that privilege religious beliefs are a good idea. Maybe they don’t “violate the Constitution”, but they aren’t mandated by it, either. So just answer the fucking question: do you think laws that criminalize private discrimination on the basis of religion are a good idea?

                  1. do you think laws that criminalize private discrimination on the basis of religion are a good idea?

                    I’m guessing you meant to ask “do you think laws that criminalize private discrimination, but exempt those who discriminate because their religion requires them to, is a good idea?”

                    I emphatically do not think such a law is a good idea, and can only hope that RFRA is not interpreted to permit this exemption.

                  2. I agree with the Framers that religion is worthy of special protection. And, particularly as more and more of our freedoms are given up to the government, it is a good idea to grant exemptions, when possible, for religious reasons. Otherwise, there will be very little room for various exercise of religion.

              2. But, if it’s the government compelling you to bake the cake, then it IS protection against the government that’s in order. The baker doesn’t care that the unwanted customer demands a cake, absent the government offering to coerce the baker on the customer’s behalf.

                Can the government hand out legally enforced ‘rights’ in areas the government itself is forbidden to act? I don’t see how.

                1. How is the government handing out legally enforced rights in areas the government itself is forbidden to act?

                2. “But, if it’s the government compelling you to bake the cake…”

                  We agree that the government should not compel a person to bake a cake. Do you think the government should compel a person to bake a cake for a religious minority because it wants to protect religious people from private discrimination?

                  1. Sad that so many are ignorant of our founding principle of unalienable rights
                    All such rights are absolute. By definition. That includes, Life and Liberty, the package called Pursuit of Happiness, all those listed in the Constitution and many never enumerated.

                    What happens when two rights are in conflict, and both are absolute? Who above the age of 17 has never heard:
                    _No free speech right to yell fire in a crowded theater?
                    _Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose?

                    So we get authoritarians, both left and right, eack seeking to impose their choice by force of law.
                    .

      2. Jerry B.: “If you’re open for business, you’re open for business — seems fair as the rule.”

        Some would think so. Others would hold that compelled speech is harmful to the individual and to the nation, and that governmental challenges to to free speech rights should have to meet the burden of strict scrutiny.

        1. That was me. I was speaking as a libertarian. That’s not the primary conflict here.
          The conflict is a special exemption from public accommodation laws, based only on religion, in a country founded on Separation.

          Again, the libertarian solution would oppose public accommodation laws for everyone, for any reason .. which is not achievable. For some libertarians, that means locking into an Ivory Tower, debating theory, competing to be the purest … forever.

          For pro-liberty libertarians, the priority is advancing toward a fully free society, as far as possible … now My proposed solution is anyone can refuse to bake the cake, if they merely have a visible sign saying what they refuse. Have you never seen, “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service.”

          Begs the question. If all those merchants freely accept an obligation to display, in advance, who they will not serve, why not bakers? The honest ones would have no problem. The theocrats would bellow, beat their chests and refuse. Ignore them.

          This would, of course, empower merchants to make whatever exclusions they choose.
          Liberty is a mutual benefit society, not an exclusive country club.

      3. I think the question was should you be compelled to, not would you (or most atheists) do it.

        1. The issue is structured as a special right for only the religious. That’s anti-liberty. I want to break the unconstitutional connection.

      4. “Gary Johnson was exactly correct, that an exemption based on religious beliefs only has nothing to do with liberty, or individual rights or even logic.”

        There’d be a stronger case for that, if religious liberty weren’t specifically called out in the Bill of Rights. Which legally does make it special.

        1. Except if the clause in the BoR applied then they wouldn’t have had to try to make it a speech case. What it is, and should be, is an economic liberty case. No one should be forced to serve anyone; not a speech or religion case.

          1. It’s stated as a special right based solely on religion

            We cannot allow different laws for different people , based on religion, in a nation founded on Separation … and on equal rights. See 14th Amendment. It’s unconstitutional.

        2. There’d be a stronger case for that, if religious liberty weren’t specifically called out in the Bill of Rights. Which legally does make it special.

          The special exemption is from a law, not the constitution The only constitutional issue here is equal rights.

      5. Gary “Bake the damn cake, Jew-boy” Johnson is about as far from “correct” as you can get, at least as far as Libertarian priciples go. Freedom of Association and Freedom of Contract are the most fundamental concepts underpinning all of Libertarianism, and Johnson is scarily out of touch with them for someone who represents the Libertarian Party

        1. Your mistaken view of libertarian principles, and/or the issue, misses the point entirely.

          You don’t get to pick and choose which rights to apply here. And to ignore equal treatment under the law. On what authority would you justify special exemptions from ANY law. Libertarians don’t apply state force in violation of equal rights. Why do you?

    3. That was similar to my first reaction. If full participation in economic life bars government from burdening religion, how the heck is the cake baker forced to bake custom cakes for weddings he religiously disapproves of?

      I am an atheist and no fan of religion, but I am also no fan of the quasi-religion of government. The reason religion was kicked from government was to stop politicians from using it to maintain power. Now they have shifted to a number of theoretically secular motivations, but it is just a label change.

      The underlying problems remain.

      1. All three judges agreed that the plaintiffs did not have a constitutional claim. The dissent was only about their RFRA claims. RFRA is a federal law that only applies to other federal laws. The famous cake baking cases are under anti-discrimination state laws where the federal RFRA does not apply.

        1. jph12: “The famous cake baking cases are under anti-discrimination state laws where the federal RFRA does not apply.”

          Right. It is a Constitutional issue.

          1. Under the free speech clause, not the religion clauses (unless they are swinging for the fences and trying to overturn Smith).

            1. We cannot have special exemptions from oppressive laws (public accommodations), based on religion ( or on anything else). The only constitutional issue here is the 14th Amendment, equal treatment under the law.

              1. First, the baker is not seeking a special exemption. Second, the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment is certainly a constitutional issue.

                1. One more time … An exemption for religion ONLY violates “equal treatment under the law”
                  NO right can be defended unequally – for some and not others … ESPECIALLY a religious exemption, in a nation founded on Separation.

                  This is NOT rocket science.

                  1. Looks like somebody pulled a Bryan Collangelo.

                    This is NOT rocket science. The Masterpiece Bakery case is about Free Speech, not Free Exercise.

                    1. Irrelevant for this debate.

        2. RFRA is a federal law that was adopted because the Supreme Court reversed its prior holdings on the subject. And, at the time, everybody thought it was an outrageous decision, so the RFRA was passed to restore the prior law.

          Religious Freedom Restoration act. It was reversing a change.

      2. If full participation in economic life bars government from burdening religion, how the heck is the cake baker forced to bake custom cakes for weddings he religiously disapproves of?

        Wrong issue. The issue is public accommodation laws – and a special exemption from those laws, based on religion, in violation of equal rights.

  2. “Given the standard for RFRA claims the Supreme Court set forth in Hobby Lobby, these are serious arguments.”

    HA!

    “As statutory claims, however, they could be easily extinguished by Congress.”

    Scalia was never more right than he was in Employment Div. v. Smith.

    1. Too bad he didn’t hold serve and explain how RFRA forced courts to do what they are not properly there too do and in the process draw arbitrary lines that favor one religion over another in the long run. Instead he joined Hobby Lobby without comment.

      Smith should have been decided narrowly as an employment decision case like the lower court did. But, they wanted to use the wrong kind of activism and go further.

      1. I disagree completely.

        Smith is exactly right.

        While I might quibble about the decisions and application that flow from the RFRA, the Court are interpreting a statute now.

        Should be fun.

        1. I don’t want courts interpreting when a generally-applicable law substantially burdens religion or when the government has a compelling interest (the default ought to be no religious exemptions except as explicitly provided for in a statute). So while I’m no fan of RFRA, I’m with loki that we are way better of in the current regime than we were pre-Smith when the courts had the last word.

          1. After RFRA, the courts in effect have the last word.

            That’s my concern — RFRA, at least as applied now, is problematic. The only way to avoid unworkable broad results here is to draw arbitrary lines that in the long run will favor some beliefs over others. RFRA on the federal level is pre-Smith on steroids. And, certain states have a similar approach. I think some middle ground is possible and the state court in Smith (dealing with employment benefits, not the drug law in question across the board) was a suitable bit of line drawing.

            1. If Congress doesn’t like how the courts interpreted a particular application of RFRA, they can pass a statute that overrules the courts. Before Smith, Congress had no say in the matter.

              How did Smith limit the reach of the Establishment Clause?

              Also, you said “Smith should have been decided narrowly as an employment decision case like the lower court did.” I thought the lower courts held the law, as applied to this case, violated the Free Exercise of religion.

              1. If Congress doesn’t like how the courts interpreted a particular application of RFRA, they can pass a statute that overrules the courts.

                Why do you say Congress can pass unconstitutional laws? If they don’t like a constitutional ruling, their only recourse is to pass a modified law that will pass muster,

                1. When the courts interpret RFRA, they are engaging in statutory interpretation, not issuing a constitutional ruling. Congress can pass a statute that overrules such a court decision.

            2. After RFRA, the courts in effect have the last word.

              The Constitution does. Nothing was changed by RFRA

          2. The government never has a compelling interest in doing what the Constitution forbids it to do. In this case the 1st amendment protects the right of individuals to free exercise, while the anti-discrimination command of the 14th amendment expressly constrains only the state.

            That means the individual right to free exercise should always prevail over demands that the individual not discriminate, since the former is a constitutional mandate, and the latter is not.

            1. Thanks to Smith, there is no Free Exercise right to disobey a generally-applicable law and anti-discrimination laws are generally applicable.

            2. The government never has a compelling interest in doing what the Constitution forbids it to do.

              That;s why we forbid it.

            3. That means the individual right to free exercise should always prevail over demands that the individual not discriminate, since the former is a constitutional mandate, and the latter is not

              NEVER.
              You said the exact opposite in the previous sentence. 14th Amendment. Equal treatment under the law.

          3. (the default ought to be no religious exemptions except as explicitly provided for in a statute)

            Unconstitutional on several levels.

            Exemptions for religion only violate both separation and equal treatment under the law.

            The real issue is public accommodation laws, but they are constituional

            1. A unanimous SCOTUS upheld the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which provides for religious exemptions for prisoners in federal jails, against a constitutional challenge.

        2. Justice Scalia in part argued the problem with the other view of the Free Exercise Clause is that it forced the courts to do something they are not fit to do, balance a range of things regarding free exercise and state interests. The net result there is that the courts will make arbitrary decisions that in the long run favor certain religions over others (though he might not specifically frame it that way).

          A broad view of RFRA — not compelled by the text in the minds of many who have discussed the matter in detail and in fact at times itself a violation of the Establishment Clause — raises such concerns. Scalia’s concerns in Smith have not gone away. Marci Hamilton, e.g., shared the oral argument in Boerne v. Flores and has spoken about this larger issue. The case was decided as a federalism case but there were broader concerns as suggested by Stevens’ concurrence.

          Smith dealt with a narrow question and even if you agree with its result, I don’t think it was a good use of the Court’s power to use it as a platform to limit the reach of the Establishment Clause. That should have been more carefully addressed separately. And, the Supreme Court later on in an opinion by Roberts narrowed the breadth of the opinion itself, speaking of “internal” and “external” effects. This suggests the value of having narrow opinions in this area and maybe by doing so the RFRA overcorrection would have been avoided.

  3. This hardcore atheist is embarrassed by such silly complaints. There are far more serious abuses of our rights by the religious theocrats, despite the best efforts of the founders.

    1. 1. Yes, the impact on me of seeing “In God We Trust”–when I take out my $5 bill to pay for my coffee–is extremely minimal. But, when you multiple it by the 87 times each day I use a bill or a coin, and multiple that by each day of my life…suddenly, it’s not so minor. It is a daily reminder that non-believers are forced to engage (in a very very very minor way) in an endorsement of religion, on a daily basis.

      If there were two versions of coins and cash, I would go out of my way at the bank to get ones without sans God.

      (Of course, back when I taught 3rd and 5th grades, I was one of those teachers who taught and led the Pledge of Alliance in its original (ie, no “…under God…”) format.

      I’m a big believer in the rights of a woman to have an abortion. I’m opposed to forced abortions. I’m a big believer in the right to own guns. I’m opposed to laws requiring me/you to own a gun. So, at least I’m consistent, in my distinction between voluntary vs forced.)

      1. God, I wish this crappy site had an Edit button. multiple=multiply. Without sans=sans. etc. 🙁

        1. That would be nice, so long as the edit window was fairly short. I hate noticing the typo a few seconds after the comment posts, but I hate even more having a comment of mine end up looking weird because somebody changes the comment I was replying to.

          Fixed in stone isn’t an unreasonable compromise.

      2. “(Of course, back when I taught 3rd and 5th grades, I was one of those teachers who taught and led the Pledge of Alliance in its original (ie, no “…under God…”) format.”

        So, incorrectly. Did you tell your students you were teaching them the wrong version or was this a case where your forced/voluntary distinction didn’t matter?

        1. Where do I send your trophy, jph12?

        2. Don’t advertise your ignorance, jph12. “under God” was added to the Pledge in 1954. The correct Pledge prior to that change (that is, from 1924 to 1954) was “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 inclusion of “under God” was also ruled unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit in 2002. So if you lived in AK, AZ, CA, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR and WA, the correct version was also without “under God” from that date until the decision was overturned by SCOTUS on standing grounds. SCOTUS has not yet affirmatively ruled that “under God” passes constitutional muster.

          1. >”Don’t advertise your ignorance, jph12″

            Your own ignorance of the Constitutional issue is … hysterical. You cite a lower-court ruling, admit it was overturned. AND admit it has never been properly challenged.

            SCOTUS cannot issue what you call an “affirmative” ruling on ANY issue that has never been before it. So who’s the ignorant one?

          2. I know when “under God” was added to the Pledge. But I’m pretty comfortable with my assumption that santamonica811 wasn’t teaching elementary school more than sixty years ago. And if he was, it’s a rather odd thing to point out in the context of the post.

            As for the Ninth Circuit, they only held that the inclusion of “under God” was unconstitutional for less than a year. They began walking back their decision in 2003 when they revised their opinion to hold that the district’s policy was unconstitutional, not the 1954 act itself. And by June of 2004, even that more limited holding was vacated. Also, as the 2010 Ninth Circuit decision upholding the Pledge with “under God” included notes, by the time the Ninth Circuit issued their 2002 decision Congress had already passed a new law superseding the 1954, so the Ninth’s Circuit’s decision probably shouldn’t have affected the language used for the pledge in any classrooms at the time. And again, if that was santamonica811’s point, it’s a rather odd thing to point out in the context of the post.

            1. I was teaching in the mid-80s. Of course I explained to my classes that I was using the original one, and that there was a new version that added God. And of course I told them that any student was more than welcome to add “Under God” aloud, or silently.

              We talked about the anti-Communism fears/paranoia at the time ‘Under God’ was added, talked about the blacklists (the 5th graders got this, but it went way over the heads of the 3rd graders), and talked about tolerance, why politicians often do things, and it turned into a lot of good, and interesting, class sessions. Of course, this was way before Twitter, social media, etc.. I think about 3 parents complained in total, and I had a super-supportive (okay, leftist) vice principal. I’m sure that if I did it today, the few complaints would mushroom via those social media, those parents would be interviewed on Fox News, and I’d be out of a job within a month. Back then is was a simpler time . . . .

      3. But confused that this is a “:voluntary vs forced” issue. How can spending money violate your rights?

        “This hardcore atheist is embarrassed by such silly complaints. “

      4. But, when you multiple it by the 87 times each day I use a bill or a coin,

        Are you a drug dealer? I don’t think I use cash 87 times in a month. Maybe not in a year.

        1. I use cash five or more times daily. Always for tips, often for parking, at least half of the time at cash registers, sometimes for debts, wagers, or reimbursements.

          I do not associate cash with drug dealing. I would legalize almost every drug, however, and consider drug dealers to be businesspersons. I also believe that people in a better America will look back at those who stigmatize today’s doobie-dealers much as we currently think of the nanny-state rubes who tut-tutted at a beer or a speakeasy during Prohibition.

          Narcs and other drug warriors, on the other hand, are lousy people — without exception — who should be ostracized and required to find a decent livelihood.

      5. ==”It is a daily reminder that non-believers are forced to engage (in a very very very minor way) in an endorsement of religion, on a daily basis.”==

        It’s kind of ironic Jesus looked at the Roman money, with Caesar’s face on it, and said , “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.”

        They had to take it, but you don’t. Good for you.

        As an aside, the prohibition is on preventing politicians from using the power of government to promote a religion as a base-building mechanism for their political power.

        That is exactly what “In God We Trust” was designed to do.

        But the prohibition isn’t because it makes people feel a widdle bad. That’s pure oh woe is me hysterics, a modern method of feigning buttburts to get the power of government on your side.

        1. This atheist disagrees. Trusting God does not equate to imposing (some version) of a God.

      6. Stop examining your money in such detail if it bothers you so much. I’m not a fan of Jackson and the atrocities he committed but I’ll gladly take a $20 bill from you.

      7. Your consistency is why I enjoy reading your comments even when I disagree; at least there is logic, reason, and critical thinking behind the comment.

  4. Can we compromise on “In Gold We Trust”?

    1. “Let me get back to you.”

      /Federal Reserve

  5. ‘The first phrase inscribed on American currency was “Mind Your Business”‘

    I could go for that one…

    (another atheist who isn’t bothered by ‘In God We Trust’, benedictions, …)

    1. When I was on dating websites, I would check “atheist” for religion, then in my comment”
      “I’m NON-religious, not ANTI-religious, and I genuinely respect anyone who lives their values on a daily basis, also without threatening anyone.”

      All the VERY best women I met said that was a top reason, or the only one, for contacting me.

      Christians are NOT the only “values voters” — and too many are the exact opposite.

  6. I’ve never heard this cast as a religious-freedom claim before, previously I thought it was all under the Establishment Clause.

    So I’m more sympathetic to the plaintiffs if they have to carry around currency with an offensive motto.

    Imagine a currency issued with “no gods, not masters” on it or whatever.

    And the Jewish plaintiff doesn’t want the word “God” written out fully, so it’s not just atheists complaining, not that they shouldn’t.

    1. Of course, this could come under rendering unto Caesar, since using Caesar’s money was the original context in which the doctrine was taught.

      1. You’re going to quote Jesus at a Jewish plaintiff?

    2. Which right is violated by words on out money?

      1. Free exercise of religion – at least at the summary judgment stage.

        1. How does words on money stop you from exercising your religion?

          Since you failed, I repeat: “Which right is violated by words on our money?”

          1. You answer my question and I’ll answer yours: You’re commenter known as Michael Hihn, aren’t you?

            1. I asked first.

              You’re pulling the same arrogance on “special rights” for Christians.
              Shameful right-winger.

            2. I asked first.

              You’re playing the same arrogant games with “special righs” for only Christians, actually a small minority of Christians.

              You were called out and failed. Game over, You lose

              1. I am impressed at the rich inner life led by many trolls, hearing all sorts of things in their heads which they rush to respond to as if the words came from someone else.

                Until 1990, the US Supreme Court acknowledged something resembling the RFRA principles as a constitutional rule…if limiting religious exercise isn’t the least restrictive means of achieving a compelling government interest, then the religious exercise is free and the government can’t meddle with it.

                The Supremes tried to carve out an exception to the First Amendment in a 5-3-1 ruling, saying that trample on religious exercise so long as you pass a so-called neutral and general law. Which in that case was a peyote ban applied – not to the hated Christians – but to a modern Native American religious sect. This peyote ban restricted a central element of their religious faith, without evidence asked or given that it was the least restrictive means of achieving a compelling government interest.

                So Congress tried to restore the First Amendment but the Supremes put roadblocks on this attempt, so Congress had to be more limited than at first they wished to be. And the conflict shifted to the states, which passed their own laws trying to restore the First Amendment.

                1. In Congress, this was approved in 1993 by a bipartisan vote and signed by President Clinton, knowing that plenty of non-Christians would try to take advantage of it. This did not faze Congress, which acted in bipartisan support of freedom – a definition freedom which until 1990 had been recognized by the Supreme Court, too.

                  But yeah, bla bla bla special rights, whatever.

                  1. The Christian Taliban – more proof of their contempt for equal rights.

                    But yeah, bla bla bla special rights, whatever.

                    REJECTS balance of power, for checks and balances between three EQUAL branches.

                    But yeah, bla bla bla special rights, whatever.

                    BELEEBS equal rights can be violated, but only for religious purposes.

                    LIES about the First Amendment, which guarantees BOTH
                    freedom OF religion
                    freedom FROM religion

                    1. “freedom FROM religion”

                      Does it hurt being that ignorant?
                      Or just normal for a Progressive hiding as a Libertarian?

                2. More insults. More lies.

                  REFUSES to oppose ALL public accommodations laws on EVERYONE.
                  REJECTS the principle of equal rights.
                  REPEATEDLY claims equal rights can be violated, if for religious reasons.
                  The Christian Taliban in action.

                  1. The Christian Taliban, working to defend the right of religious minorities to use peyote in their ceremonies.

                    It’s right there in the Taliban Manifesto, on page 666.

                    1. “REFUSES to oppose ALL public accommodations laws on EVERYONE.”

                      But enough about Governor Johnson…

                    2. PROUD of their CONTEMPT for equal rights.

                    3. Don’t be so unfair to the governor, I’m sure he wasn’t thinking his position through very clearly.

                    4. PROOF! another special right

                      The Christian Taliban, working to defend the right of religious minorities to use peyote in their ceremonies.

                      Explicitly Taliban. SHAME ON YOU.

                      Libertarians defend the rights of EVERYONE to use peyote .. for whatever reason they chose.

                      They don’t get it and never will.

                    5. So…I’m hearing that you feel no obligation to back up your accusation: “You’re playing the same arrogant games with “special righs” for only Christians, actually a small minority of Christians.”

                      The peyote users are not Christians.

                      Also, once you find a useful way to persuade Congress/the states/the courts to recognize a broader right of freedom of association for everyone, let me know, I’d be pleased as punch.

                    6. The peyote users are not Christians.

                      I didn’t say they were.
                      On what basis do you justify special exemptions based on religion?
                      On what basis do you reject the 14th Amendment’s equal treatment under the law?

                    7. You said I was for “‘special righs’ for only Christians.”

                    8. You said I was for “‘special righs’ for only Christians.”

                      You pathetic piece of shit.
                      You introduced peyote AFTER I said that When ONLY Christian cake bakers were an issue.

                      You REFUSE to justify using religion as an excuse to violate “equal treatment under the law” … because you CANNOT …. seven times now.

          2. “How does words on money stop you from exercising your religion?”

            It doesn’t, but the statutory test is not “stop you from exercising your religion”. Otherwise, any interference with religious practice would be justified up to full legal prohibition.

            1. Okay, how do words on money interfere with exercising your religion?
              Or violate freedom FROM religion?

      2. It represents a “substantial burden” on religious belief. Remember when the Little Sisters of the Poor thought that just filing a form was a substantial burden? Well, then carrying currency can be. The rule seems to be that a substantial burden is whatever the litigant says it is.

        Of course it’s silly, IMO, but the Sisters had a lot of supporters on the right as of course did the Green family in the Hobby Lobby case.

        1. The little sisters self insured dimwit. Signing the form to “force the insurers to pay instead” (one of the most idiotic rationalizations liberals ever came up with) shifted the burden of provision and costs to the insurers… Who was the little sisters of the poor. There was no shared or mixed funds since they were self insured. The insurer was just a paperwork proxy.

          1. Oh shut up, Jesse. You don’t know WTF you’re talking about.

            Yes they are self-insured. The form tells their plan administrators that they will not pay for contraception and the TPA has to. The TPA then gets a rebate from the government to cover it.

            1. Yes they are self-insured.

              False

            2. “Yeah, sisters, it seems you haven’t filed your TPA report.

              “Did you get that memo?”

          2. The little sisters self insured dimwit.

            They are not self-insured. They buy insurance coverage from the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust. And THEY call it insurance!
            https://www.cbservices.org/Health.html

        2. Those damn nuns, just sitting around helping the poor like they’ve been doing for years, not giving birth-control to their employees…let’s slap a fine on them!

          “Stop imposing crippling fines on yourself! Stop imposing crippling fines on yourself!”

          1. Nuns don’t need to follow any legal requirements that upset them even if it hurts third parties. Employment rules applied to some twenty-five cleaning lady in these cases are just upsetting nuns.

          2. What the Little Sisters actually did was refuse to allow their employees to buy contraception coverage on their own — thereby denying the religious freedom of their employees.

            1. No, not true. They refused to allow their employees to buy contraception coverage through their employer.

              They had no way to know of, let alone obstruct, their employees from buying contraception coverage on their own.

              1. The insurance was part of their compensation.

                I’m not sure about the line drawing here. Employees will ultimately use the money they obtain from employment to buy things.

                If the sort of indirect supply via insurance provider is a problem, the nuns arguably can simply put in the employment contract that any money earned should not be used for contraceptives. I know someone who thinks serving blacks should be optional might find this okay (this is Reason, I get this), but it’s a broad thing.

                1. “The insurance was part of their compensation.”

                  The contraception coverage was not part of their compensation package until the government attempted to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide it.

                  “If the sort of indirect supply via insurance provider is a problem”

                  It’s not indirect supply. They are directly providing an insurance policy to their employees that includes certain forms of contraception that they believe are prohibited by their religion.

                  “the nuns arguably can simply put in the employment contract that any money earned should not be used for contraceptives.”

                  Arguably. But why would they? They didn’t feel the need to include such a provision in their employment contracts before the ACA mandated contraception coverage.

              2. They had no way to know of, let alone obstruct, their employees from buying contraception coverage on their own.

                Refusing to sign the form.

                They refused to allow their employees to buy contraception coverage through their employer.

                Also wrong. The coverage would be separate.

        3. It represents a “substantial burden” on religious belief.

          Your “example” doesn’t come close to being relevant here.

          The rule seems to be that a substantial burden is whatever the litigant says it is.

          A common fallacy on the far right, the same folks who say that judges “invent rights” — which judges have been doing for over 500 years. and required by our own Constitution.

          Of course it’s silly, IMO, but the Sisters had a lot of supporters on the right

          Who forces you to carry money?

          1. “Who forces you to carry money?”

            Vagrancy laws.

            1. Rich people who don’t carry money can be arrested as vagrants?

              Vagrancy laws these days are suspect given court rulings, but they didn’t turn on carrying money.

              1. That’s funny. Tell you what, you show me one instance when vagrancy laws were used against a rich person and I’ll concede your point.

            2. “Who forces you to carry money?”

              Vagrancy laws.

              FAIL

      3. No constitutional right, but there might be a statutory right under the RFRA, in this case exercise of religion.

  7. Personally I’m fine with removing the motto if the government also stops projecting seizure inducing rainbows on the white house, celebrating kiddy fiddlers from SF, funneling billions of dollars a year to indoctrination centers, and otherwise promoting all the politicized/pseudo and or effectively religious causes libs like. Fair is fair.

    1. But teaching transgender ideology in kindergarten is the new rage!

    2. Celebrating kiddy fiddlers from SF????

      I don’t know what that means. But I have to admit that I like the lyrical flow of that sentence.

      1. Harvey Milk the patron saint of gay people according to the left.

      2. I think he was talking about a youth string orchestra. But I’m not sure what his objection to that is. Seems like a worthwhile activity.

        1. I know you think this is a joke but whats even funnier is how people like you will guffaw at this and then turn around the next instance and rend your garments and gnash your teeth and overflow the oceans with tears over guys like Roy Moore.

  8. For all but the Jewish plaintiff, the claim was that “carrying, affirming, and proselytizing a message whose content contradicts their religious beliefs” is a substantial burden on those beliefs. That doesn’t strike me as correct under either Hobby Lobby or Eugene’s analysis. On the other hand, the Jewish plaintiff says the act of carrying money with the motto is forbidden by his religion. That is a substantial burden on his religious beliefs.

    1. That would seem to be true. And also for those who believe in God, but do not believe s(he) should be trusted.

    2. On the other hand, the Jewish plaintiff says the act of carrying money with the motto is forbidden by his religion. That is a substantial burden on his religious beliefs.

      It is under the “It’s a substantial burden if I say it is” rule. Not otherwise. Look at the claim.

      renders him complicit in the sins of superfluously printing God’s name and destroying God’s printed name.

      How is he complicit in either?

      1. Quoting from Eugene’s analysis:

        “Requiring people to do something that “is forbidden by [their] faith qualifies as a substantial burden on religious practice […] And that is so even where […] the complicity line that the religious claimant draws appears inconsistent or unsound to the reviewing court.”

        1. You have to prove the burden is substantial. Beating one’s chest and bellowing is not enough.

          1. Eugene didn’t come up with this rule by beating his chest. He quoted relevant precedent: United States v. Lee (1982), Hernandez v. Commissioner (1989) and Thomas v. Review Bd. (1981). Eugene’s reading of those precedents were confirmed in Hobby Lobby.

            1. Eugene didn’t come up with this rule by beating his chest.

              Whooooosh

        2. As I said, it’s the “it’s a substantial burden if I say it is” rule.

          1. Yes, the determination of what is complicity in sin is in the eye of the beholder. The alternative would be having secular courts interpreting religious doctrine.

            1. And your alternative is to let everyone make up their own rules.

              1. As long as they are sincere (secular courts are permitted to evaluate sincerity), why is that a problem?

                1. Because

                  it would create an extraordinary right to ignore generally applicable laws that are not supported by “compelling governmental interest” on the basis of religious belief.

                  By the way, I wonder if the Jewish plaintiff owns or has owned any books on religion.

                  1. I don’t disagree that what you describe could be a problem, but that’s because we should only have a narrow explicit list of applications where a religious exemption is permissible (where a person’s eligibility would still be based on their sense of when complicity in sin occurs) rather than RFRA’s potentially broad list. It’s not because we should have secular courts or Congress determining when complicity in sin occurs.

      2. God’s name is “God”? I thought it was a title. You don’t actually need a name, if there’s only one of you.

        1. You don’t actually need a name, if there’s only one of you.

          Hmm. There’s only one of me, but I have a name.

    3. I wonder how substantial the burden is today and if that’s a factor? Can’t remember the last time I used cash.

      1. From the opinion:

        “Plaintiffs therefore have not plausibly alleged that they lack a feasible alternative to cash for engaging in commerce. […] [Not using cash is in the class of] mere inconveniences […] held insufficient to establish a substantial burden.”

  9. I like the judge’s claim that “In God We Trust” is some sort of newfangled innovation, dating only from the Civil War. Sort of like the abolition of slavery, so not part of “real America”?

    1. It’s all Lincoln’s fault.

      (Actually Salmon P. Chase’s fault, but Lincoln made him Secretary of the Treasury)

      1. Don’t blame Salmon P. Chase. Blame his parents, they were the idiots that named him after a fish.

    2. It was not mandated until 1955. Inconvenient fact.

      1. Older vintage is of dubious value in ascertaining worth in matters of public policy. Brown v. Board was decided in 1954 but Plessy v Ferguson, that it overturned, was decided in 1896. Clearly Plessy is worth more because it was an older decision, at least via the logic of your “inconvenient fact.”

        1. Umm. I was correcting that it traces to the Civil War.

          1. Read the OP again.

  10. Isn’t there a big difference between here and Hobby Lobby? In Hobby Lobby, the government was requiring the *person* to do something (or suffer consequences). Here, the *government* is doing something (putting God on money) which some people object to. This is like the case where people sued the gov’t for paving over an Indian holy place, which the Supreme Court rejected, based on this difference between the government requiring a *person* to do something which violates his religion and the *government* doing something. The case was Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Ass’n, 485 U.S. 439 and the money quote was “The Free Exercise Clause affords an individual protection from certain forms of governmental compulsion; it does not afford an individual a right to dictate the conduct of the Government’s internal procedures.”
    That was decided under the pre-Smith Free Exercise clause, but RFRA is clear that it was trying to statutorily get back to pre-Smith.

    1. Eugene referenced Lyng in his analysis, and I agree for most of the plaintiffs there isn’t a substantial burden on their religious practice.

      But as I noted above, there is one Jewish plaintiff who believes using the money is complicity in sin. If it is true that he is effectively required to use cash (the majority and dissent parted ways on this question), then the government doing something (putting “In God We Trust” on cash) results in the plaintiff being required to do something that violates his religion, and thus I believe his religious practice is substantially burdened.

      1. But as I noted above,

        Which was also misguided.

        there is one Jewish plaintiff who believes using the money is complicity in sin

        I believe everyone named Josh has at some time sexually abused a 2-year-old. It’s my sincere religious belief. (NOW do you get it?)

        1. I believe everyone named Josh has at some time sexually abused a 2-year-old. It’s my sincere religious belief. (NOW do you get it?)

          Assuming you aren’t lying (secular courts are permitted to examine whether or not you are lying), so what?

      2. If it is true that his religion prohibits him from using money with the motto on it, then the burden is imposed a law requiring him to use cash, not by the government printing what it wants on its money. According to Lyng, the difference is between government doing something and government forcing or prohibiting one from doing something. The fact that there are cash-only businesses is not the government’s doing. But even if it was, the violation would be in forcing him to use the cash, not in printing what it wants.

        I wonder why the Jewish plaintiff wasn’t concerned about his lawsuit causing God’s name to be used in vain.

        1. There is no law requiring him to use cash. If you assume that using cash is a non-governmental, societal fact of life, then the government’s action forced him to do something which violates his religious beliefs.

          1. Again, that is no different than Lyng, where the construction on the holy site interfered with the Indians being able to worship.

            1. Sorry, I was sloppy. I should have said the government’s action forced him to do something which is forbidden by his faith, and that requirement is far different than interference with his ability to worship.

              1. I can see why you would feel that way. However, I don’t think that courts have ever made that distinction under RFRA.

                1. Eugene detailed the cases where SCOTUS made that very distinction.

      3. For this reason, I am more sympathetic to the Jewish plaintiff.

        The atheists are being asked to do something they disagree with.

        The Jew is being asked to risk his soul.

        But it seems silly to argue that the intent of the RFRA was to invalidate our currency.

    2. I’ve still never seen anyone explain how anyone’s rights are being violated here.

  11. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander…

    Maybe this will make the religious nuts think twice about special treatment laws. (But probably not, realistically.)

    1. Organized religion will continue to take the ‘heads we win, tails you lose’ approach (no one can discriminate against us, but we can discriminate against others, and don’t forget the special privileges for superstition) so long as our society permits.

      People should be free to believe as they wish. Adults neither advance nor accept superstition-based arguments in reasoned debate, however, and unearned, special privilege for religious claimants is a stale relic.

  12. As someone who thinks religious people are mental midgets who are simply looking for someone (something?) to hold their little hands in this big, bad world, I’m surprised at my indifference to this issue.

    However, I do take issue with one of the reasons the court used to dismiss the challenge.

    “Plaintiffs could avoid cash by using credit cards and checks.”

    This strikes me as a separate-but-equal rational and is not persuasive at all.

    Cash is legal tender that must be accepted everywhere, “. . .when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise.”

    1. You’re confusing “when tendered to a creditor” and “as payment for goods and/or services”.

      If you already have a debt, the creditor must, legally, accept US currency as payment.

      But, if you approach somebody, not a creditor, they’re not actually obligated to sell you their product in return for said currency.

      That’s why companies actually can refuse cash. They just have to do it up front.

      1. Nope, not confused at all. That’s why I included the part about private businesses.

        1. Sorry, blood level too high in my caffeine stream.

  13. I oppose public accommodation laws for everyone outside of narrow emergency situations. I don’t support allowing a baker to not make a cake for homosexuals only if he’s religious, but not if he just doesn’t like them.

  14. I didn’t read the majority opinion, but a religious objection may be credibly made against just about anything that appears on our money. We don’t need an eagle or Jefferson’s mug and the “least restrictive” currency may be only a number showing the denominations, and maybe some artful lines for the purpose of deterring counterfeits.

    Does the RFRA demand such asceticism? I think that goes far beyond what qualifies as the least restrictive means. The government’s argument about the national motto being our only motto and the role of currency expressing a government message isn’t weak as portrayed in the dissenting opinion.

    If there is a compelling interest to communicate the “fundamental values on which our system of government is founded,” our national motto, an eagle, some presidents, buildings all seem to be some of the most simple of means of doing so.

    1. When will America reach the point at which it has a modern, rather than medieval, motto?

      Choose reason. Every time.

      Especially over sacred ignorance and dogmatic intolerance.

      Most especially if you are older than 12 or so. By then childhood indoctrination fades as an excuse for gullibility, backwardness, bigotry, ignorance, and superstition. By ostensible adulthood it is no excuse.

      Choose reason. Be an adult.

      Or, at least, try.

      1. “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”

        “From Each According to His Ability, To Each According to His Needs”

        “No Gods, No Masters”

        “LoL, Other Countries are Stupid”

      2. Your “choose reason” motto isn’t very good. It is arrogance and closed-mindedness parading around as truth. We see that too often.

        1. ‘Choose reason’ is cloaking arrogance and closed-mindedness?!?

          Sheesh…

          One definition of Reason states: think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.

          That sounds like the EXACT OPPOSITE of arrogance and closed-mindedness.

          Believing in fairy tales and simple political solutions (MAGA!) is arrogance and closed-mindedness.

          1. The thing is, is that without objective moral principles, or at least a shared understanding of constitutes natural law, you could reason your way to just about any conclusion, both on an individual level and on a societal level. Sounds good though, it just doesn’t survive scrutiny.

            1. kalak gets it.

            2. “objective”, you say? It sounds like you’re gonna need reasoning to come up with ***objective*** moral principles.

              1. You’re not understanding, not surprising.

                Throughout history there were collectively believed objective moral principles. Of course they varied by culture, so were they actually objective? Likely not, at least in the positivist sense. However, from the perspective of the society creating law and social order out of them, they were, allowing for certain bedrock moral ideas that kept that society from “reasoning” their way to whatever policy they wanted to enact, often to the deteriment of a minority of citizens in a nation, or the world at large. It doesn’t take much historical knowledge to think of examples of societies going off the rails, or suffering a period of decline, when they lose that collective belief in an objective moral system.

                1. That’s a strange argument for superstition or incoherence over reason, but no one said arguments must be sensible, especially in a free society.

      3. If you choose “reason,” you don’t support a form of “marriage” that runs contrary to biology and contrary to thousands of years of successful Western tradition.

        1. Back when I took biology, there wasn’t a word in either the textbook or the teacher’s presentation about marriage. I did learn a few things about reproduction, something common to all species, whether they had “marriage” or not, and a few odds and ends about the mating habits of different animals, but nothing about marriage.

          1. See, you think your snark is witty and undercuts Patriot’s point, but it actually shows your ignorance. Marriage is a cultural institution, and it should have been discussed in perhaps a social studies class, but not a biology class. Huh. With rare exceptions, monogamous pair bonding for the purposes of child rearing (meaning biologically a man/woman) is also a universal.

            1. Marriage is a cultural institution, and it should have been discussed in perhaps a social studies class, but not a biology class.

              Well, yes, of course. Your disagreement is with ActualRightWingPatriot, not with me. He’s the one who brought up biology.

              1. Not 100%, in that biology dictates that only males and females can have kids. The rest kinda flows from there. But yea…I get your point.

        2. Are you suggesting that people who have undergone vasectomies or hysterectomies should be prohibited from being married?

      4. I take it your ideas of “modern” stopped somewhere in the late 1930s Rev? You seem to be stuck in the era when the cool kids all thought bigger government was the way to go. Face it, the New Deal is over and Marx, Freud, FDR, Henry Wallace and all the rest of your “modern “Shibboleths are DEAD.

        1. Shame on you. He gave NO example of modern .. so your infantile babbling is meaningless.
          He did the exact OPPOSITE … asking FOR a modern version if an obsolete motto.

  15. As most of my payments are made electronically, I almost never handle physical currency anymore. However, even when I do, I can’t remember the last time I actually really looked at the currency and noticed the In God We Trust phrase. If I went to another country for a vacation, and had to use currency that said, “Allah is the One True God” or “There is No God”, I wouldn’t think twice about still using the currency. It’s just money and whatever the government wants to throw on there has no effect on me.

    Now, if the paper money said something like, “By using this money in the course of commerce, you legally agree that the Catholic God is the one true God and will follow all of God’s commands” then, yes, I would have would a big problem with that.

  16. I wonder how many people who have no problem with “In God We Trust” would have a problem with someone taking a pen and replacing “God” with “Allah” or “Vishnu”?

  17. When did Americanlaw schools stop teaching de minimus non curat lex?

    1. Since they stopped teaching about public indecency in criminal law.

    2. Since they stopped teaching about public indecency in criminal law.

  18. As a general rule, I enjoy the Volokh Conspiracy comment section much more than the Hit & Run comment section — it typically features actual substance over an unending string of one-liners — but I have a feeling that will change if Michael Hihn decides to take up residence here.

    And no, there can be no credible doubt that OneLoneLibertarian is Michael Hihn, or at least someone trying his very best to make an homage to him.

    1. Instead of cyber-bullying and aggression .. on a libertarian web site — can you state what you disagree with?
      Instead of nonstop drivel, can be a man, not a whining pussy?

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