Louisiana Sued For Classrooms Ten Commandments Requirement

Louisiana Ten Commandments Requirement

Nnine families, including several clergy, sued Louisiana over a new law requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in all public school classrooms. The complaint argued that displaying the Ten Commandments violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, stating it “cannot be reconciled with the fundamental religious-freedom principles that animated the founding of our nation.”

The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in the Baton Rouge federal court, seeking an injunction against the law. Governor Jeff Landry, a Republican, signed the law on June 19, making Louisiana the only U.S. state requiring displays of the Ten Commandments in public schools.

Conservative groups are pushing to make expressions of faith more prominent in society, hoping such laws could receive a favorable ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority. In 1980, the court declared a Kentucky law requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools unconstitutional. However, in 2022, the court sided with a high school football coach in Washington state who claimed a constitutional right to pray with his players at the 50-yard line after games.

Landry’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. When signing the law, Landry claimed that displaying the Ten Commandments would help expand faith in public schools. “If you want to respect the rule of law, you’ve got to start from the original law-giver, which was Moses,” he said.

The plaintiffs argued that the law violates the First Amendment’s prohibition against state establishment of religion and its free exercise clause by pressuring parents and children to accept the state’s favored religious message. “It is our children’s right to decide what views to accept,” said plaintiff Darcy Roake, a minister in the Unitarian Universalist Church, whose husband is Jewish and also a plaintiff.

In the Christian and Jewish faiths, God revealed the Ten Commandments to the Hebrew prophet Moses. Louisiana’s law mandates an easy-to-read, poster-sized display of the Ten Commandments in all classrooms, from kindergarten through public colleges. It also requires a statement that the Ten Commandments had been “a prominent part of American public education for almost three centuries,” suggesting the Commandments have historical, as well as religious, value.

U.S. District Judge John deGravelles, appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama, will preside over the case.