ACLU, Louisiana, Public Classrooms, Ten Commandments

ACLU Fights Back Against Louisiana’s New Law Enforcing The Ten Commandments To Be Posted In Public Classrooms 

The author of the legislation, GOP state Rep. Dodie Horton, declared the bill as a “huge victory.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and civil rights and religious freedom organizations have announced plans to take legal action against Louisiana’s mandate requiring public schools to display the Ten Commandments in public classrooms. 

The announcement was made on June 19 after Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed a bill making the Pelican State the first state to mandate it be prominently displayed in all classrooms, from elementary to high school. 

In collaboration with the ACLU of Louisiana, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the advocates argue that the law is blatantly unconstitutional. “The law violates the separation of church and state and is blatantly unconstitutional,” the groups said in a joint 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.”

Almost 45 years ago, in 1980, the case of Stone v. Graham appeared before the  Supreme Court, which ruled that the First Amendment prohibits public schools from posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms. However, according to WWLTV, House Bill 71 states the religious proclamation must be at least 11 by 14 inches and must be the central focus, “printed in a large, easily readable font.”

The author of the legislation, GOP state Rep. Dodie Horton, declared the bill a “huge victory.” In 2023, she wrote a bill requiring an “In God We Trust” poster in public classrooms. 

While the lawsuit hasn’t been officially filed yet, Landry is seemingly prepared for the legal pushback the mandate will bring. During a fundraiser event in Tennessee on June 18, the governor allegedly told attendees, “I’m going home to sign a bill that places the Ten Commandments in public classrooms, and I can’t wait to be sued.”

Civil rights groups are concerned about how the law will affect students and how it will disrupt their studies. “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. 

In addition, advocates want students’ religious freedom rights protected. “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,” their statement continued. All posters must be posted by the beginning of 2025 and will be paid for via donations — as state funds will not be used toward the mandate.