The law and religion is a topic rarely out of the UK courts in recent times and, across the Atlantic, it is no different. Last week, the US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in Newdow v Roberts challenging the use of the phrase, “so help me God”, within the presidential oath of office. The phrase, whilst not mandatory, has been added to the official oath by many president-elects during their inauguration ceremonies.

Claiming a violation of the Constitution and infringement on their religious beliefs, the atheists initially sought to injunct Chief Justice John Roberts from reciting the optional religious adjunct whilst administering the oath for President Obama in January 2009.  The lawsuit was later amended to seek an injunction against religious references in future inaugurations and was thrown out by a federal judge for the plaintiffs’ lack of legal standing. For more information, please click here and here for articles from The Christian Science Monitor and Secular News Daily. See also here and here for previous posts from Aidan O’Neill QC and Oliver Gayner on religion and the law.