ACLU to file lawsuit against Louisiana law requiring Ten Commandments in classrooms

ACLU to file lawsuit against Louisiana law requiring Ten Commandments in classrooms

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil rights organizations say they plan to file a lawsuit challenging a new Louisiana law that requires public schools to display the Ten Commandments in every classroom.

The lawsuit, which has not yet been filed, was announced Wednesday after Gov. Jeff Landry (R) signed a Republican-led bill making Louisiana the first state to require that the Ten Commandments be prominently displayed in all public elementary and high school classrooms.

“The law violates the separation of church and state and is blatantly unconstitutional,” the ACLU, ACLU of Louisiana, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom from Religion Foundation said in a statement.

“The First Amendment promises that we all get to decide for ourselves what religious beliefs, if any, to hold and practice, without pressure from the government. Politicians have no business imposing their preferred religious doctrine on students and families in public schools.”

In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled in Stone v. Graham that the First Amendment prohibits public schools from posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms.

But under Louisiana’s new law, starting next year the Ten Commandments “shall be displayed on a poster or framed document that is at least eleven inches by fourteen inches” with “large, easily readable font.”

At a Republican fundraiser in Tennessee last weekend, Landry touted the bill and said, “I can’t wait to be sued.”

The civil rights groups said the new law could disrupt how welcome students may feel in schools.

“Louisiana’s communities and public schools are religiously diverse, yet H.B. 71 would require school officials to promote specific religious beliefs to which people of many faiths, and those of no faith, do not subscribe,” the groups said.

“Even among those who may believe in some version of the Ten Commandments, the particular text that they adhere to can differ by religious denomination or tradition. The government should not be taking sides in this theological debate, and it certainly should not be coercing students to submit day in and day out to unavoidable promotions of religious doctrine.”

They added that the new law undermines religious freedom rights.

“All students should feel safe and welcome in our public schools. H.B. 71 would undermine this critical goal and prevent schools from providing an equal education to all students, regardless of faith.”

Landry’s office did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.