Utah has to remove crosses memorializing fallen state troopers from public roads, according to a ruling by a federal appeals court issued Wednesday.
Fourteen large, white crosses currently line the roadside of a stretch of I-15 in Utah, serving as memorials to Utah Highway Patrol officers who have died in the line of duty. The Highway Patrol was sued by an atheist group, American Atheists, Inc., in 2005, alleging that the memorial served as a state-sponsored endorsement of Christianity, violating the provision for the separation of church and state.
“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,” said the ruling from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff expressed disappointment with the decision and announced plans to appeal the ruling. “It is the judicial responsibility to interpret, but I’m just glad it’s not the final say,” he told the Deseret News. (video via Fox 13)