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Louisiana becomes 1st state requiring Ten Commandments be posted in classrooms

BATON ROUGE, LA — Louisiana has become the first state in the U.S. to mandate the display of the Ten Commandments in all school classrooms, following a new law signed on Wednesday by Governor Jeff Landry. This legislation is poised to face immediate legal challenges.

Why it matters: The new mandate distinguishes Louisiana from other states like Texas, South Carolina, and Utah, which have attempted but failed to pass similar measures. The push for such laws gained momentum after recent Supreme Court rulings, including Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, suggested a more lenient interpretation of the Establishment Clause, which prohibits state-sponsored religion.

The law’s specifics: The law requires a Protestant translation of the Ten Commandments to be prominently displayed in all classrooms of schools receiving public funds, extending to colleges and universities. The commandments must be printed on a poster no smaller than 11 inches by 14 inches and must be “the central focus” of the document.

Friction point: Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Louisiana, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, have announced plans to file lawsuits challenging the law. In a joint statement, they described the legislation as “blatantly unconstitutional.”

Governor’s stance: Governor Landry anticipated legal opposition. “I’m going home to sign a bill that places the Ten Commandments in public classrooms,” he stated at a recent Republican fundraiser in Nashville. “And I can’t wait to be sued.”

Legislative background: The bill was authored by Rep. Dodie Horton (R-Haughton), who asserts that the Ten Commandments form the “basis of all laws in Louisiana.”

Additional context: The Ten Commandments mandate is part of a broader set of education-focused legislation signed by Governor Landry. This includes a plan to use public funds for private school tuition and HB121, which requires teachers to obtain parental permission to use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns and protects teachers from disciplinary action if they refuse to use them.