ACLU, Others Sue over New Louisiana Law Demanding Display of 10 Commandments in Public Schools


By Kayla Garcia-Pebdani 

BATON ROUGE, LA — The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, American United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation this week announced a lawsuit against new Louisiana law requiring all public elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools to display the 10 Commandments in classrooms.

H.B. 71, signed by Gov. Jeff Landry, will call for K-12 classrooms to display the  10 Commandments on “a poster or frame document that is at least 11 x 14.”

Additionally, the document is expected to be in large readable font, and serve as the “central focus” of the display, the source asserts. Moreover, the Commandments must be the state-sanctioned version of the scripture, otherwise violating Louisiana law, said the ACLU in a statement.

The ACLU emphasizes this law stands in juxtaposition of Supreme Court precedent, and the First Amendment, citing Stone v. Graham, where the Supreme Court overturned a similar statute 40 years ago stating the First Amendment bars public schools from displaying the 10 Commandments in classrooms.

Provided down below is the issued joint statement from the organizations aiming to challenge the recent bill:

“We are preparing a lawsuit to challenge H.B. 71. The law violates the separation of church and state and is blatantly unconstitutional. 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,” the ACLU and others stated.

The organizations added, “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.

“Even among those who may believe in some version of the 10 Commandments, the particular text that they adhere to can differ by religious denomination or tradition. The government should not be taking sides in this theological debate, and it certainly should not be coercing students to submit day in and day out to unavoidable promotions of religious doctrine.”

The organizations charged, “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. We will not allow Louisiana lawmakers to undermine these religious-freedom rights.”

About The Author

Kayla Garcia-Pebdani is a fourth-year student at UC Davis, studying Political Science–Public Service with double minors in Human Rights and Professional Writing. She actively engages in social justice issues and advocacy through her roles as an intern for Article 26 Backpack, the Co-Lead for Students Demand Action at UC Davis, and her previous involvement with Catalyst California as a Government Relations Intern. Kayla hopes to further expand her knowledge and skills during her time with the Vanguard. Through her experiences, she aims to highlight injustices in everyday life and provide means for the public to stay aware and hopefully become inclined to get involved.

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