Louisiana Parents Sue Over Display of Ten Commandments in Public Classrooms

Nine Louisiana families of different faiths sued the state’s education department and local school boards on Monday over a new state law requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in every public classroom.

“Indeed, for nearly half a century, it has been well settled that the First Amendment forbids public schools from posting the Ten Commandments in this manner,” the filing, which was shared by NBC News, states. The bill, the families argue, “violates this binding precedent and the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.”

The families — who are Jewish, Christian, Unitarian Universalist, and nonreligious, per the outlet — further argued that the law “substantially interferes with and burdens the right of parents to direct their children’s religious education and upbringing.”

“It also sends the harmful and religiously divisive message that students who do not subscribe to the Ten Commandments … do not belong in their own school community and should refrain from expressing any faith practices or beliefs that are not aligned with the state’s religious preferences,” the suit states.

Republican Governor Jeff Landry, who has  sought to usher in a slew of conservative legislation, signed the bill last week; he previously boasted about welcoming the legal fight. “I’m going home to sign a bill that places the Ten Commandments in public classrooms,” he said during his keynote address at a GOP fundraiser dinner in Nashville. “And I can’t wait to be sued.”

Rev. Jeff Simms, a Presbyterian and one of the plaintiffs, told NBC News that “By favoring one version of the Ten Commandments and mandating that it be posted in public schools, the government is intruding on deeply personal matters of religion,” adding, “This is religious favoritism that runs counter to my religion and faith.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation have backed the families; the Simpson Thacher & Bartlett law firm has also taken on the case pro bono.

Last Friday, former president Donald Trump endorsed the Louisiana law on Truth Social, while Texas Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick lamented on X that his state “WOULD have been and SHOULD have been the first state in the nation to put the 10 Commandments back in our schools,” and vowed to “pass the 10 Commandments Bill again out of the Senate next session.”

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