Court Blocks Removal of Utah Highway Crosses

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The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled Tuesday that an order to remove 14 memorial crosses along a state highway in Utah be blocked.

The Utah Highway Patrol Association put up the memorial crosses to honor fallen patrol officers and encourage safe driving. But the Texas-based American Atheists sued the state in 2005 because of the patrol's logo on the crosses.

In August, a three-judge appeals court panel said the crosses represent an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and that the crosses, which bear the logo of the Utah Highway Patrol, should come down.

Attorneys for the Utah Highway Patrol Association, the Utah Department of Public Safety, and two other state agencies sought a rehearing before the appeals court's full panel of judges. However, the petition was denied in a 5-4 decision issued in December.

Tuesday's ruling gives the Utah attorneys general's office 90 days to appeal the decision that the 12-foot-high memorials are unconstitutional to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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