Louisiana is the first state to implement such a law in more than four decades.


A group of families are working to block the new Louisiana law that mandates educators to display the Ten Commandments in every public school classroom, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

“Permanently posting the Ten Commandments in every Louisiana public-school classroom–rendering them unavoidable– unconstitutionally pressures students into religious observance, veneration, and adoption of the state’s favored religious scripture,” the complaint reads.

“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 or beliefs that are not aligned with the state’s religious preferences,” the complaint continues.

The bill requires the religious text to be in a “large, easily readable font” on a poster-sized display paid through donations. Louisiana is the first state to implement such a law in more than four decades.

In the 1980 Supreme Court case of Stone v. Graham, the justices ruled in a 5-4 majority that a Kentucky law requiring classrooms to display the Ten Commandments was unconstitutional. The court said the religious text had “no secular legislative purpose” and was “plainly religious in nature.”

The plaintiffs in the present-day lawsuit come from various backgrounds. Some are Jewish, Christian, Unitarian Universalist, and non-religious. They are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, as well as Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

They are suing Louisiana’s education department, Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, several school boards and other individuals connected to those entities.

“This law is a disturbing abuse of power by state officials,” Heather L. Weaver, senior staff attorney for the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said in a statement. “Louisiana law requires children to attend school so they can be educated, not evangelized.”

In the same statement, Alanah Odoms, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, brought up the importance of the separation of church and state: “We must protect the individual right of students and families to choose their own faith or no faith at all. The separation of church and state is a bedrock of our nation’s founding principles; the ten commandments are not.”

Gov. Jeff Landry (R) signed H.B. 71 into law on Wednesday.

“If you want to respect the rule of law, you’ve got to start from the original lawgiver, which was Moses,” Landry said at last week’s signing ceremony.

The law has gained public support from former President Donald Trump, who posted about it on Truth Social, his social media platform, on Friday: “I LOVE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, PRIVATE SCHOOLS, AND MANY OTHER PLACES, FOR THAT MATTER. READ IT — HOW CAN WE, AS A NATION, GO WRONG???”