SALT LAKE CITY -- A federal appeals court says the 14 crosses erected along state highways to commemorate fallen Utah Highway Patrol troopers are a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the memorials had the effect of conveying a state endorsement or preference of a certain religion.
The ruling reverses a 2007 judge's decision that the crosses communicate a secular message about deaths and were not an illegal public endorsement of religion.
The Texas-based American Atheists Inc., sued to have the crosses removed from state property. The group claimed that without context the crosses imply that trooper who died there was a Christian.
The 12-foot high white crosses were paid for with private funds.