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Supreme Court Refuses Hearing of “So Help Me God” Case

(May 17, 2011, Washington, DC)  Leadership at the American Humanist Association expressed disappointment today with the US Supreme Court’s refusal to hear a case challenging the inclusion of the phrase “So help me God” within the Presidential oath of office. The Appignani Humanist Legal Center was among the case's co-plaintiffs along with atheist Michael Newdow in 2008.

“The Supreme Court’s refusal is a set-back to all of those involved in the fight for the separation of church and state, “said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Sectarian statements have no place within our government, and we will continue to work to ensure that these lines are not blurred in the face of the increasingly extremist Christian right.” 

Newdow challenged “So help me God” as a violation of the Establishment Clause, and sought injunctions against the inclusion of the phrase in future presidential oaths. The case, which was filed against Chief Justice Roberts, was thrown out by a federal judge earlier this year on the grounds of lack of legal standing.

"It is a disappointment but unfortunately not a surprise that the Supreme Court has denied our petition to review the D.C. Circuit's erroneous decision,” said Bill Burgess, attorney and legal coordinator of the American Humanist Association’s legal arm, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Hostile federal courts have increasingly used the tactic of interpreting procedural rules such as standing and mootness in a rigidly narrow and formalist manner to deny plaintiffs the right to a hearing on the merits of Establishment Clause claims."

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center is a project of the American Humanist Association that provides legal assistance to defend the constitutional rights of secular Americans by challenging violations of the separation of church and state guaranteed by the Establishment Clause and seeking equal rights for humanists, atheists and other freethinkers. 

The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God.

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