Police departments in Texas can continue to display “In God We Trust” decals on department vehicles, the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, said recently.
In a written opinion, released Nov. 4, Paxton said the decals were “a passive use of a motto steeped in our nation's history,” according to The Texas Tribune.
Two Republican state legislators had asked Paxton to weigh in on the issue after the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) objected to the motto’s use by more than 30 police departments in several states, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
FFRF specifically sent the Texas Panhandle town of Childress a letter in September to address the controversial decals on police vehicles.
Rebecca Markert, senior staff attorney for the FFRF, told the Amarillo Globe-News at the time that the decals likely violated constitutional protections against the establishment of religion.
Childress Police Chief Adrian Garcia responded to the FFRF's letter with one of his own, in which he told the foundation to “go fly a kite,” The Tribune reported in October.
In Paxton’s November opinion, he disagreed with Markert’s assertion that the decals violated the Establishment Clause in the Constitution and said that he suspected a court would likely agree.
“There is an unbroken history of official acknowledgment by all three branches of government of the role of religion in American life from at least 1789,” he wrote, according to The Tribune. “A law enforcement department's decision to display the national motto on its vehicles is consistent with that history. Thus, a court is likely to conclude that a law enforcement department's display of ‘In God We Trust’ on its patrol vehicles is permissible under the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”
Photo credit: The Texas Tribune