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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Proposed bill to require Ten Commandments in Louisiana public schools

House Bill 71, a Louisiana House Bill proposed by Rep. Dodie Horton on Feb. 8, requires the display of the Ten Commandments in all public classrooms. (“Louisiana State Capitol Building” by Chrismiceli, Wikimedia Commons)

“I AM the LORD thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

These are the top two lines of the Ten Commandments, a set of biblical principles proposed to hang in each Louisiana public school classroom.

House Bill 71, a Louisiana House Bill proposed by Rep. Dodie Horton on Feb. 8, requires the display of the Ten Commandments in all public classrooms. The bill allows school boards to choose the format of display, “with a minimum requirement that the Ten Commandments shall be displayed on a poster or framed document that is at least 11 inches by 14.”

During the first regular session, Gov. Jeff Landry promised to prioritize education in an effort to address the issue of crime in Louisiana. 

“[Parents] want to be free from the dangers of uncontrolled classrooms, free from bureaucracy that prioritizes petty grievances above children in the classroom and free from being indoctrinated by the latest radical social cause,” Landry said

According to political science professor Brian Brox, HB71 is an attempt to instill a sense of “admittedly Christian and Jewish morality” in education. It is among nearly 100 other education-related bills proposed this legislative session.

Brox said supporters of the bill believe the separation of church and state has gone too far. Considering the previous positions of the current majority conservative Republican government, Brox said that he believes HB71 will pass. 

“The Republican Party has shifted from a Reaganesque party into a much more socially conservative party, whether it’s ideas of race, LGBTQ rights within society, certainly things about abortion and other forms of public morality,” Brox said. 

Brox said he expects the bill to be brought to the United States Supreme Court within the next three years, emphasizing the inevitability of a lawsuit. During this period of gaining national attention, the bill’s implementation may be deferred until the conclusion of the court case.

The 1980 Supreme Court case Stone v. Graham deemed a Kentucky law mandating the display of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms unconstitutional due to its “plainly religious” nature, violating the First Amendment. 

The current 6-3 Conservative majority in the Supreme Court may opt to establish a new precedent. “This bill has a better shot of ultimately happening and becoming law than it would have 20 or 30 years ago,” Brox said.

As a private university, Tulane would not be directly affected by the bill.

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