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Capitol Visitor Center Religious Language Suit Rejected By Judge

First Posted: 10/02/10 09:46 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 06:55 PM ET

Capitol Visitor Center Lawsuit

By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) A federal judge has dismissed a suit arguing that engravings of "In God We Trust" and the Pledge of Allegiance at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center here are unconstitutional.

The suit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation was dismissed Wednesday (Sept. 29) by U.S. District Court Judge William Conley of Madison, Wis., due to lack of standing. He said the Wisconsin-based organization did not make a sufficient link between their taxpayer status and the money spent on the engravings that included the national motto and the words "under God" in the pledge.

"Any funds used by the government will necessarily result in the use of taxpayer money," Conley wrote.

The American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative Christian law firm that filed a brief on behalf of dozens of members of Congress seeking a rejection of the suit, hailed the decision.

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

The atheist foundation is considering whether it will refile on grounds other than taxpayer standing.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the foundation, questioned Conley's decision that there was not a link between a specific appropriation and the congressional resolution permitting the engravings.

"Congress authorized the religious engravings and controls the purse strings for the Capitol architect who had to pay for the engravings," she said in a statement. "How can that not show a 'nexus'?"

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Filed by Clay Chiles  |