Civil liberties groups file lawsuit against Louisiana Ten Commandments law

Civil liberties groups file lawsuit against Louisiana Ten Commandments law

A coalition of civil liberties groups on Monday filed a lawsuit against Louisiana after its governor last week signed a bill requiring that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom starting in 2025.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), its branch in Louisiana, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed the suit on behalf of a multi-faith group of nine Louisiana families with children in public schools.

The lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana alleges the new law violates the First Amendment and “substantially interferes with and burdens” parents’ rights to direct their children’s religious upbringing.

The plaintiffs are made up of a group of Jewish, Christian, Unitarian Universalist and non-religious individuals.

“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 reads.

The law requires the Ten Commandments to be displayed one easily readable posters in public school classrooms with three paragraphs about how the religious text have played an influential role in American history.

“If you want to respect the rule of law,” Gov. Jeff Landry (R) said during his signing of the bill, “you’ve got to start from the original law giver, which was Moses.”

Landry added at the time he “can’t wait to be sued,” which the ACLU vowed to do just hours after the bill was signed into law.

“As a nonreligious family, we oppose the government forcibly subjecting our child to a religious scripture that we don’t believe in. 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,” said Jennifer Harding and Benjamin Owens, plaintiffs in the case.

Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill (R) said her office “cannot comment on a lawsuit we haven’t seen.”

“It seems the ACLU only selectively cares about the First Amendment — 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.

—Updated at 4:36 p.m. ET

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.