Louisiana plaintiffs ask court to temporarily block law that requires public schools to display Ten Commandments

The plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s new law that requires the Ten Commandments be displayed in all public classrooms filed a motion for a preliminary injunction Monday, asking the court to block the law from going into effect while legal proceedings play out.

The filing seeks an order from the court that would prevent the state from requiring public schools to display posters of the Ten Commandments in all classrooms or implementing any other statute from the new law.

That lawsuit, filed last month in federal court, contends that the legislation violates both US Supreme Court precedent and the First Amendment.

House Bill 71, signed by Republican Gov. Jeff Landry in June, mandates that by January 1, 2025, a poster-sized display of a state-approved version of the Ten Commandments with “large, easily readable font” be put in every classroom from kindergarten through the university-level at state-funded schools.

Last month, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters issued a memo requiring that schools in the state incorporate the Bible and the Ten Commandments into their curriculum, calling the Bible an “indispensable historical and cultural touchstone.”

The memo came after the state’s Supreme Court blocked an effort to establish the first publicly funded religious charger school in the country, CNN previously reported.

Plaintiffs in the Louisiana lawsuit argued mandating that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every classroom renders them “unavoidable” and “unconstitutionally pressures students into religious observance, veneration, and adoption of the state’s favored religious scripture.”

“It also sends the harmful and religiously divisive message that students who do not subscribe to the Ten Commandments — or, more precisely, to the specific version of the Ten Commandments that H.B. 71 requires schools to display — do not belong in their own school community and should refrain from expressing any faith practices of beliefs that are not aligned with the state’s religious preferences,” the complaint continues.

The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Louisiana, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, on behalf of nine “multi-faith families” with students enrolled in Louisiana public schools.

It names state Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley, several other Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education officials, and some local school boards.

When asked about the lawsuit, Brumley told CNN in a statement last month that he looked forward to implementing the law.

“The Ten Commandments law passed with overwhelming support in Louisiana’s state legislature and was enthusiastically signed by our Governor,” he said. “I look forward to implementing the law and defending Louisiana’s sovereign interest to select classroom content fundamental to America’s foundation.”

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