* August 19th, 2010 10:55 am
Wednesday, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that highway memorial crosses for state troopers are unconstitutional; the crosses were erected along Utah public roads to honor those troopers who died in the area. The three-judge panel ruled that 14 large crosses could be ruled as the "government's endorsement of Christianity."
"We hold that these memorials have the impermissible effect of conveying to the reasonable observer the message that the state prefers or otherwise endorses a certain religion," concluded the judges in a Denver, Colorado-based court.
In 1998, the Utah Highway Patrol Association started placing the crosses and the fallen trooper's name, rank, photo, badge number, and biological information about the officer were placed on the crosses. The crosses also include the state insignia, and the judges ruled that raises constitutional concerns.
The Utah Highway Patrol Association said their message was not religious, but to serve as "a lasting reminder to UHPA members and Utah highway patrol troopers that a fellow trooper gave his life in service to this state" and to "encourage safe conduct on the highways."
The state of Utah has the option to appeal to the US Supreme Court.