ACLU leads lawsuit against Louisiana over state's Ten Commandments law

The group claimed the lawsuit violates the First Amendment and infringes on a parents' ability to raise their child.

Published: June 24, 2024 5:58pm

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) led a lawsuit on Monday against the state of Louisiana over its new law that requires public schools to display the Ten Commandments in every classroom.

Louisiana Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed the bill into law last week, making the state the first to require the Biblical mandates be displayed in its public schools. However, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, vowed that his state would pass a similar measure. 

The group claimed the lawsuit, which was also filed by the ACLU Louisiana, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, violates the First Amendment and infringes on a parents' control in the religious upbringing of their children, according to The Hill.

“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 lawsuit stated.

The civil rights coalition filed the lawsuit on behalf of nine Louisiana families, who have varied religious beliefs, who all have students in the public school system. The plaintiffs are families who hold Jewish, Christian, Unitarian Universalist, and non-religious views.

“As a nonreligious family, we oppose the government forcibly subjecting our child to a religious scripture that we don’t believe in," plaintiffs Jennifer Harding and Benjamin Owens told The Hill. "The State of Louisiana should not direct a religious upbringing of our child and require students to observe the state’s preferred religious doctrine in every classroom."

The Louisiana law does not demand that students hold the same religious views, but it does dictate that classrooms need to display the Ten Commandments in “large, easily readable font," according to The Associated Press.

Supporters of the law have claimed that the Ten Commandments are not tied to a specific religion, and also hold historic significance, including significance related to the founding of the country.

Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill responded to the lawsuit in a comment on Monday and accused the ACLU of only caring about select First Amendment issues.

"It doesn’t care when the Biden administration censors speech or arrests pro-life protesters, but apparently it will fight to prevent posters that discuss our own legal history,” Murrill said.

Misty Severi is an evening news reporter for Just the News. You can follow her on X for more coverage.

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