First Amendment Battle In Utah

10.11.11 | Jeremy Miller

AT WHAT POINT DO FREE SPEECH AND SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE COLLIDE? UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL MARK SHURTLEFF IS ANTICIPATING THE SUPREME COURT WILL HEAR THE CASE REGARDING THE WHITE CROSSES USED TO REPRESENT FALLEN HIGHWAY PATROL OFFICERS.  HE SAYS HE HOPES THE COURT WILL GET RID OF WHAT'S CALLED "THE ENDORSEMENT TEST" IN FAVOR OF USING "THE COERCION TEST." THE NEW JERSEY-BASED "AMERICAN ATHEISTS INCORPORATED" SUED UTAH BACK IN 2005 FOR PUTTING THE 12-FOOT HIGH CROSSES ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD WITH A BEEHIVE SYMBOL ON IT.  AN APPEALS COURT RULED THE CROSSES DID CONVEY THE STATE OF UTAH'S ENDORSEMENT OF CHRISTIANITY, BUT LAWYERS WITH THE U-H-P APPEALED TO THE SUPREME COURT.  A DECISION IS EXPECTEDTHIS WEEK... IF THE NATION'S HIGHEST COURT WILL HEAR THE CASE.