First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
News Story
Newdow seeks to bar references to God from inauguration

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A California physician and attorney whose legal fight against the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance has drawn national attention has joined a new lawsuit seeking the removal of all references to God and religion from President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony.

Michael Newdow says references by public officials to God or religion are unconstitutional. He wants to remove the phrase "so help me God" from the oath of office and block the invocation prayer from Pastor Rick Warren.

The lawsuit was filed Dec. 29 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The plaintiffs include more than 20 other people and several atheist and humanist organizations, including the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation.

The lawsuit states: “By placing ‘so help me God’ in its oaths and sponsoring prayers to God, government is lending its power to one side of perhaps the greatest religious controversy: God’s existence or non-existence.”

“Equality is important to me,” Newdow told The Washington Examiner. “We should show equal respects for all of our citizens, regardless of their race, gender or religion.”

Newdow also sued to remove religion from inaugurations in 2001 and 2005 but lost both cases.

Federal judge won't order Obama not to use 'God' in oath
Court also refuses request by group of atheists to block ministers from offering prayers at Jan. 20 inauguration. 01.16.09


Justices refuse to bar inaugural prayer

Justice John Paul Stevens rejects appeal filed by Michael Newdow after Chief Justice William Rehquist denies initial bid to block invocation. 01.19.05

Federal judge to stay ruling in Pledge case
Announcement sets stage for Michael Newdow, California school districts to take dispute to 9th Circuit. 10.06.05

Justices sidestep 'In God We Trust' dispute
Supreme Court won't review 4th Circuit ruling allowing national motto on government building; meanwhile, Michael Newdow says he plans to challenge use of phrase on U.S. currency. 11.14.05

Court rejects atheist's challenge to 'In God We Trust'
Federal judge says words on currency amount to secular national slogan that doesn't trample on Michael Newdow's non-religious views. 06.13.06

Newdow's libel lawsuit survives in court ruling
Atheist who challenged 'under God' in Pledge of Allegiance can proceed against preacher who accused him of perjury. 10.26.06

Inaugural plans causing stir over religion
Barack Obama's choice of clergy for ceremonial prayers is under scrutiny like no other president-elect before him; meanwhile, atheist sues to strike 'so help me God' from oath. 01.15.09

Are ‘so help me God,’ inaugural prayer still appropriate?
By Charles C. Haynes We might ask what practices are relevant and appropriate in a pluralistic nation where 84% belong to different religions — and 16% have no religious affiliation. 01.18.09

News summary page
View the latest news stories throughout the First Amendment Center Online.

print this   Print

Last system update: Saturday, January 24, 2009 | 19:35:50
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment

First Reports
Supreme Court
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Freedom Sings™
First Amendment

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment

Lesson plans
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links