Federal Court Tosses U.S. Pledge, Motto Suit

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A federal court in Madison, Wis., has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the engravings of national motto, "In God We Trust," and the Pledge of Allegiance at the Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C.

The suit was filed by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, who challenged the engravings on the basis of the separation of church and state required by the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge William M. Conley ruled Wednesday that the atheist foundation did not have the legal standing to sue the Architect of the Capitol - the office responsible for the Capitol building and grounds - to remove the engravings and that it was pointless to try to stop the engravings, since they have already been made.

The judge noted that under prior Supreme Court precedents, taxpayers can only bring legal challenges for perceived injuries if the injuries are directly tied to specific appropriations by Congress.

"Plaintiffs fail to establish standing because they cannot point to any specific congressional appropriation for the allegedly unconstitutional concurrent resolution," Conley wrote.

The American Center for Law and Justice, representing 50 members of Congress, had asked the court for the lawsuit to be dismissed.

"This challenge was another misguided attempt to alter history and purge America of religious references," ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow said.

"The national motto and the pledge merely echo the sentiments found in the Declaration of Independence," he added.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is not giving up and will be re-filing the lawsuit, according to the group's president, Annie Laurie Gaylor.

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