The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had convened a rare full-court session last December to rehear the dispute. All 12 active judges in the Cincinnati-based circuit--which hears appeals from Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee--participated, along with senior Judge David Nelson.
The motto was adopted in 1959.
"To me, it means the same thing as ... 'In God We Trust,"' associate solicitor David Gormley told the judges at the December hearing.
But Mark Cohn, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the reference in "With God all things are possible" is much more specific and, therefore, unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge James Graham of Columbus had ruled in 1998 that the words were acceptable as an official motto if Ohio did not attribute them to their biblical source. On appeal, a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit ruled 2-1 in April 2000 that the motto was unconstitutional. In July, the court agreed to the rehearing before the full court.