Saturday, July 13, 2024

Parents seek injunction to block Ten Commandments displays during lawsuit

by BIZ Magazine


A Ten Commandments sculpture is on display in front of city hall June 27, 2001 in Grand Junction, Colorado.
A Ten Commandments sculpture is on display in front of city hall June 27, 2001 in Grand Junction, Colorado.(Michael Smith/Getty Images)

As promised, the Louisiana parents challenging the legality of required Ten Commandments displays in K-12 and college classrooms formally asked a judge Monday to stop the new state law from going into effect.

Schools have until Jan. 1, 2025, to meet the requirements of the law that calls for posters at least 11 by 14 inches large to be prominently displayed in every classroom, but the commandments could go up as soon as next month when students return to school.

Nine families have sued the state, arguing the new law amounts to the state endorsing a religion and conflicts with the First Amendment..The plaintiffs filed a motion Monday for a preliminary injunction, which would stop schools from posting displays while the court case plays out.

U.S. District Court Judge John deGravelles of Louisiana’s Middle District in Baton Rouge, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, is presiding over the case. If he grants the injunction, it would prevent any school from placing Ten Commandments displays once the school year begins.

“As argued in the brief, these displays will violate long-standing Supreme Court precedent,” Americans United for Separation of Church and State, one of the groups representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said in a statement. “More than 40 years ago, in Stone v. Graham, the Supreme Court overturned a similar (Kentucky) state law, holding that the separation of church and state bars public schools from posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms.”

Plaintiffs’ attorneys also note in the brief that the new law calls for a Protestant version of the Ten Commandments, which differs from those recognized by the Catholic and Jewish faiths.

Defendants in the case include Louisiana Education Superintendent Cade Brumley, members of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the school boards of East Baton Rouge, Livingston, Orleans, St. Tammany and Vernon parishes.

Gov. Jeff Landry signed House Bill 71, which required the Ten Commandments displays at any school that accepts state money, which would include public universities. The governor said he welcomed a lawsuit challenging the statute’s constitutionality.

The plaintiffs also filed a motion for an expedited hearing for the preliminary injunction, which seeks a decision from deGravelles to block Ten Commandments displays before the school year begins.

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