Sunday, March 16, 2003

Ohio Moments


State motto retains reference to God

On March 16, 2001, a federal appeals court ruled 9-4 that Ohio's motto - "With God, all things are possible" - was constitutional.

The motto dates to 1959, after Jim Mastronardo, then a 12-year-old Cincinnatian, discovered Ohio was the only state in the Union that lacked one. He suggested the phrase - which his mother often said, but he hadn't realized was a quote from the Bible - and launched a petition drive that helped persuade the General Assembly to adopt it.

The lawsuit arose when Gov. George Voinovich wanted to add the motto to a Statehouse sidewalk. Matthew Peterson, a Presbyterian minister from Cleveland, and the ACLU claimed that the motto was a violation of the separation of church and state. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed when it reversed the ruling of a lower court. But the full court later struck down the decision - saying that since the motto didn't establish or advocate a particular religion, it wasn't a violation of anyone's rights.

Rebecca Goodman

E-mail rgoodman@enquirer.com or call 768-8361.




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