The state of Louisiana is going to be facing a heavy uphill battle in the courtroom after their new law was signed this week. Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry signed House Bill 71 into law this week, and instantly legal challenges against it were launched. That new law says that public schools would have to have a certain interpretation of the ten commandments posted.

Louisiana would be the only state to require any form of the ten commandments posted in public schools, because the United States Supreme Court has struck down every previous law. The last challenge to this came 40 years ago in Stone vs Graham, where the Supreme Court said a similar state statute violates the US Constitution.

US Supreme Court
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Almost immediately as Louisiana House Bill 71 was signed into law, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation all launched legal actions to challenge the law.

The groups released a statement in response to the passage of the law, saying:

"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. 

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 Ten 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.

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."

Bossier Parish School Board
Bossier Parish School Board

Residents in Bossier Parish are likely familiar with many of these legal standings. Within the last few years, Bossier Parish Schools faced legal challenges to the religious actions inside their schools. That legal action resulted in a Consent Decree handed down from the courts that put Bossier Parish Schools into a monitored status, similar to a probation. The legal precedent that this case heavily relied on is the same precedent that will likely be used to challenge House Bill 71.

Additionally, the same organizations taking legal action against the state over House Bill 71 are many of the same organizations that took action against Bossier Parish Schools.

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You might be surprised to learn the highest paid teachers in the state are in northwest Louisiana.

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