FFRF and coalition sue over law requiring the Ten Commandments in classrooms

On June 24, 2024 FFRF, the ACLU, the ACLU of Louisiana, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a coalition lawsuit challenging a newly enacted law in Louisiana that would require all public schools to display the Ten Commandments. This law mandates that every classroom display the Ten Commandments on “a poster or framed document that is at least 11 inches by 14 inches.” The commandments must be the “central focus” of the display and “printed in a large, easily readable font.” It also requires that a specific version of the Ten Commandments, which has been dictated by the state Legislature, be used for every display. Displays that depart from this state-sanctioned version of scripture would violate Louisiana law.

The complaint asserts that the statute violates long-standing U.S. Supreme Court precedent and the First Amendment. The Supreme Court previously overturned a similar state law in Stone v. Graham, holding that the separation of church and state bars public schools from posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms. No other state requires the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public schools. 

The complaint further alleges that Louisiana’s law “substantially interferes with and burdens” parents’ First Amendment right to direct their children’s religious education and upbringing, and that, in approving and mandating the display of a specific version of the Ten Commandments, the law runs afoul of the First Amendment’s prohibition against the government taking sides on questions of theological debate.

Plaintiffs are represented by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the ACLU, the ACLU of Louisiana, and Americans United, with Simpson Thacher Bartlett LLP serving as pro bono counsel. FFRF Senior Counsel Samuel Grover and FFRF Legal Director Patrick Elliott are serving as co-counsel on the case. The lawsuit is in the Middle District of Louisiana District Court with case number 3:24-cv-00517-JWD-SDJ.

Freedom From Religion Foundation