Louisiana Passes Bill to Require Schools to Display Ten Commandments

Louisiana lawmakers in late May passed a bill that would require public school classrooms to display the Ten Commandments.

The bill, HB71, is now in the hands of Republican Governor Jeff Landry. If the bill is signed into law, it would make Louisiana the first state to mandate the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools.

Under the legislation, public school classrooms and state-funded universities must display a poster-sized copy of the Ten Commandments.

Proponents of the measure argue that the bill is constitutional due to the “historical significance” of the Ten Commandments.

Republican state Senator Jay Morris said during a floor debate on May 28 that the purpose of displaying the Ten Commandments was not “solely religious” but also due to its “historical significance.” He argued that it was “one of many documents” that feature prominently in the country’s history as “the foundation for our legal system.” 

The bill would also authorize the display of the Declaration of Independence, the Mayflower Compact, and the Northwest Ordinance in public school classrooms. However, displaying these documents would not be similarly mandated.

Democrat opponents of the measure warned that the bill would likely face constitutional challenges in court if it became law.

Democrat state Senator Royce Duplessis said the “historical significance” argument would not provide the state with adequate “constitutional cover” to protect it from legal challenges. He also questioned why the Republican-controlled legislature would focus on the Ten Commandments rather than the other historical documents.

Duplessis, who claimed to be a “practicing Catholic,” said if parents wanted their children to learn about the Ten Commandments, they could take them to church.

The bill’s author, Republican state Rep. Dodie Horton, previously argued that the Ten Commandments did not preach a specific religion but instead outlined a “moral code.”

Similar legislation to require the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public school classrooms has also been introduced in other Republican-led states like Texas, Utah, and Oklahoma.