Apparently, [In God we trust] was named the national motto by Eisenhower in 1956. It was challenged in 1970 and the case made it to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The decision was very similar to today’s – it was fine because “It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise….” They quoted an earlier decision: “Short of those expressly proscribed governmental acts there is room for play in the joints productive of a benevolent neutrality which will permit religious exercise to exist without sponsorship and without interference. …”
This is even worse than today’s given that it had been made the motto just 14 years prior (after a couple of centuries of “E pluribus unum” as the unofficial motto) and for what I understand was the express purpose of declaring the US a religious/theistic country in opposition to the godless Communists. That is in no way neutral and has quite a bit to do with the establishment of religion, as these wingnuts recognize.
But it also shares the same problem as the Greece decision: If the motto or the prayers are “merely ceremonial” or traditional exercises, the response to people’s reasonable sense of exclusion and their opposition to the practice would be to change or end their use. It would not be “Let’s take this to the highest courts!” The fact that these decisions are being made by high courts itself destroys the claim that we’re talking about mere ceremony or tradition.