Roadside crosses erected to memorialize fallen Utah Highway Patrol officers violate the First Amendment's prohibition of government endorsement of religion, says a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruling reported by the Christian Science Monitor. The court said the 12-foot-high crosses bearing the name and badge number of deceased officers send an unconstitutional religious message to motorists on the state's highways.
Proponents of strict separation between church and state praised the decision. “This is an important victory,” said David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association. “Governmental endorsement of Christianity, even in the form of an officer's memorial, isn't appropriate on our public highways.” He added, “There are other ways to honor fallen officers, and the court's recognition of this certainly strengthens secular government.”