Friday, May 20, 2022

Posting Of National Motto In School Does Not Violate Establishment Clause

In JLF v. Tennessee State Board of Education, (MD TN, May 18, 2022), a Tennessee federal district court upheld Tennessee's statute that requires all public schools to post the national motto "In God We Trust" in a prominent location. The law was challenged under the Establishment Clause by the father of a kindergartener on behalf of his daughter whose school has posted the motto as part of a display in the entryway to the school.  The court said in part:

The court finds ... in light of the substantial body of law ... repeatedly concluding in a variety of contexts that the national motto has a secular purpose and that its display does not violate the Establishment Clause, that the Lemon test is of limited utility in this context.... The fact that the display is in a public school does not require enhanced scrutiny.... [T]he posting of the national motto in schools “involves no coercion,” “does not purport to compel belief or acquiescence,” “does not command participation in any form of religious exercise,” “does not assert a preference for one religious denomination or sect over others, and it does not involve the state in the governance of any church.”...