Four civil liberties groups will sue the state of Louisiana after Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed a law Wednesday that calls for the Ten Commandments to be displayed in school classrooms.

Louisiana will face lawsuit over requirement to post Ten Commandments in classrooms

BATON ROUGE — Four civil liberties groups will sue the state of Louisiana after Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed a law Wednesday that calls for the Ten Commandments to be displayed in school classrooms. The new rule applies to any school that accepts state money, including colleges and universities.

The American Civil Liberties Union, its Louisiana chapter, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom from Religion Foundation announced they intend to file a lawsuit to block enforcement of House Bill 71.

The measure, authored by Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, requires the Ten Commandments be displayed in each classroom. The poster or framed document dimensions must be at least 11 inches by 14 inches.

More: Louisiana lawmakers want Ten Commandments in all public school classrooms

Speaking at a Republican Party fundraiser in Tennessee over the weekend, Landry said he intended to sign the Ten Commandments bill into law, “and I can’t wait to be sued.”

The four groups bringing the lawsuit issued a joint statement that said, in part, the new law promotes specific religious beliefs to which many people in Louisiana do not subscribe. 

“All students should feel safe and welcome in our public schools,” the statement said. “H.B. 71 would undermine this critical goal and prevent schools from providing an equal education to all students, regardless of faith. We will not allow Louisiana lawmakers to undermine these religious-freedom rights.”

Proponents of the legislation have argued it doesn’t promote a specific religion because it does not allow public dollars to be used to purchase the Ten Commandments displays. Instead, schools can accept donated posters or documents, and the law directs the Louisiana Department of Education to “identify appropriate resources to comply” with the display requirements and list his information on its website.

Horton also cast her proposal as a way to note the historical significance of the Ten Commandments and their role in American law. 

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling has also given confidence to backers of the new law. 

In 2022, justices ruled in favor of Joseph Kennedy, a Washington state high school football coach who was fired for praying at midfield after games and allowing students to join him. Kennedy got his job back after conservative justices prevailed in a 6-3 decision, saying the post game prayers do not amount to a school endorsement of Christianity.?  

Louisiana’s K-12 schools, colleges and universities have until Jan. 1 to meet the law’s requirements, although it doesn’t include penalties for noncompliance.

Editor’s Note: The following article from author Greg LaRose was originally published by the Louisiana Illuminator, an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization with a mission to cast light on how decisions in Baton Rouge are made and how they affect the lives of everyday Louisianians. 

Read more from The Louisiana Illuminator @ www.lailluminator.com

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