This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.
According to FoxNews; August 18,2010 (Full article available on-line)
SALT LAKE CITY -- The 14 crosses erected along Utah roads to commemorate fallen state Highway Patrol troopers convey a state preference for Christianity and are a violation of the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court said Wednesday.
The ruling reverses a 2007 decision by a federal district judge that said the crosses communicate a secular message about deaths and were(sic) not a public endorsement of religion. It's the latest in a recent rash of mixed-bag rulings on the public use of crosses.
A three-judge panel from Denver's 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its 38-page ruling that a "reasonable observer" would conclude that the state and the Utah Highway Patrol were endorsing Christianity with the cross memorials.
"This may lead the reasonable observer to fear that Christians are likely to receive preferential treatment from the UHP," the justices wrote.
The 12-foot high white crosses with 6-foot horizontal crossbars are affixed with the patrol's beehive logo and a biography of the deceased trooper.
In 2006, the Utah Legislature passed a joint resolution declaring the cross a nonreligious secular symbol of death.
But American Atheists, Inc., the Texas-based group that sued to have the crosses removed from state property, argued that the crosses could imply that the trooper who died there was a Christian.
Federal vs. State Authority
US Constitution, First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Federalist Paper 45, James Madison
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
We the People:
The first amendment limits the federal government, not the states. It does not take a legal scholar to interpret the words of it; though it may take one to unravel the convoluted rationalization of a federal official who oversteps his or her authority.