Louisiana may require Ten Commandments to be displayed in public schools

FILE - The Ten Commandments monument erected in 1956 at Albert Lea's Central Park, sits nestled among a cluster of overgrown pine trees. (DAVID BREWSTER/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

Louisiana could soon become the first state to require public schools to display the Ten Commandments in every classroom. 

The GOP-authored bill received final approval from the state’s Legislature earlier this week and it’s headed to Gov. Jeff Landry’s desk. 

It will mandate a poster-sized display of the Ten Commandments in "large, easily readable font" be required in all public classrooms, from kindergarten to state-funded universities. 

The recent bill comes during a new era of conservative leadership in Louisiana under Landry. The state’s reliably red Legislature has a GOP supermajority and Republicans hold every statewide elected position. 

Similar bills like the one requiring the Ten Commandments to be displayed in classrooms have been proposed in other states, such as Texas, Oklahoma and Utah. 

But due to threats of legal battles over the constitutionality of these types of measures, no state has had success in the bills becoming law. 

If the Ten Commandments bill is signed into law in Louisiana, legal battles are expected to follow. 

Proponents of the bill argued that the measure is constitutional on historical grounds. 

GOP state Sen. Jay Morris said that "the purpose is not solely religious to have the Ten Commandments displayed in our schools, but rather its historical significance." He went on to say that the Ten Commandments is "simply one of many documents that display the history of our country and the foundation for our legal system." 

The law also "authorizes" — but does not require — the display of the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence and the Northwest Ordinance in K-12 public schools. 

Opponents continue to question the bill's constitutionality, warning that the state is sure to face lawsuits. 

Some lawmakers said there are more pressing education issues plaguing the state that need to be highlighted, not what sorts of signs need to be displayed in classrooms. 

"We really need to be teaching our kids how to become literate, to be able to actually read the Ten Commandments that we’re talking about posting. I think that should be the focus and not this big what I would consider a divisive bill." Sen. Royce Duplessis said. 

Louisiana routinely reports poor national education rankings. According to the State Department of Education in the fall of 2022 only half of K-3 students in the state were reading at their grade level. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.