Before every oral argument in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a court clerk tells everyone to draw near and give their attention because the court is now sitting. The opening cry ends with the line “God save the United States and this honorable court.”

Atheist lawyer and physician Michael Newdow doesn’t want the clerk reading that line next Tuesday when a three-judge panel takes up his case challenging the custom of concluding the presidential oath of office with the line “So help me God.” Newdow and attorney Robert Ritter of the American Humanist Association argue those words violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

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