Fourteen crosses that stand along a Utah state highway as a memorial to highway patrol troopers who've lost their lives in the line of duty have been ruled a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday that the 12-foot high white crosses were an endorsement of religion, implying a state preference for Christianity.
The American Atheists sued to have the religious symbols removed from public property. They said the presence of the crosses imply that the troopers who died there were Christians.
Luke Goodrich, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C., was dismayed by the court's decision.
"The ruling essentially says religious speech is bad and secular speech is okay," Goodrich told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Goodrich argued before the appeals court on behalf of Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, and Oklahoma, the four states who had intervened in the case.
He said the appellate court's ruling "calls into question roadside crosses in other states across the nation."
Wednesday's decision reversed a 2007 ruling by a federal district judge who said the crosses conveyed a secular message about death.