- Justice Thomas Dissents from Cert Denial in Highway Cross Case, Cites ‘Shambles’ Precedents
U.S. Supreme Court
Justice Thomas Dissents from Cert Denial in Highway Cross Case, Cites ‘Shambles’ Precedents
Posted Oct 31, 2011 10:43 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Justice Clarence Thomas sees a lost opportunity to “provide clarity to an establishment clause jurisprudence in shambles” in the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal today to take up a case involving crosses beside a highway.
Thomas dissented (PDF) from the cert denial. At issue is whether privately financed roadside crosses erected to honor fallen highway patrol officers in Utah violate the establishment clause.
A nonprofit group raised private funds to finance 13 crosses, placed where officers had been killed, including alongside highways. The state had granted permission in a permit that said it neither approved nor disapproved of the memorial markers.
The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had found an establishment clause violation. According to Thomas, “the 10th Circuit’s opinion is one of the latest in a long line of ‘religious display’ decisions that, because of this court’s nebulous establishment clause analyses, turn on little more than ‘judicial predilections.’ … Because our jurisprudence has confounded the lower courts and rendered the constitutionality of displays of religious imagery on government property anyone’s guess, I would grant certiorari.”