Louisiana’s Ten Commandments Bill Is Actually A Very Big Deal

Louisiana’s legislature overwhelmingly passed, and Gov. Jeff Landry happily signed, a bill which shouldn’t have been controversial at all. It’s a bill which would have schools across the state, from kindergarten all the way up to the university level, put up posters in classrooms with the Ten Commandments on them.

You know, the Ten Commandments? The admonitions from God which serve as the basis of all Western, Judeo-Christian morality and law?

The Ten Commandments were ubiquitous within (and without) the confines of American education for hundreds of years, from before the nation’s founding to practically five minutes ago. It was a Supreme Court decision in 1980 which invalidated a Kentucky Ten Commandments law as an “establishment” of religion.

That was Stone v. Graham, and in that case the Court’s majority used something called the Lemon test, which was a formulation it had laid down in a prior case, Lemon v. Kurtzman. The Lemon test has three parts…

  1. Secular Purpose: The government action or law must have a legitimate secular purpose. In other words, the purpose must be unrelated to the advancement or inhibition of religion.
  2. Primary Effect: The government action or law must not have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion. The court must consider whether the action or law has a neutral or secular effect.
  3. Excessive Entanglement: The government action or law must not result in an excessive entanglement between government and religion. This includes situations where the government is too closely involved with religious institutions or activities.

In Stone v. Graham, the Court found the Kentucky law lacked a legitimate secular purpose.

William Brennan wrote that opinion for the Supreme Court’s majority. William Brennan was about as far-left a jurist as you could find in the 20th century, and he’s responsible for a huge swath of the idiotic precedents the Court set in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The current majority of the Supreme Court has very, very little resemblance to, and not quite much more respect for, the ideological positions espoused by Brennan.

A case from two years ago, Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, involved a high school football coach in Washington State who took to midfield to pray after games. He got fired for his trouble and sued. According to the Lemon test, having school employees praying would be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. But the Court ruled that the Lemon test doesn’t apply to an individual’s conduct who might be a school employee.

This Ten Commandments bill might come off as a window-dressing cultural thing. But it’s a bit more than that. Landry and the legislators aren’t simply pandering to the Religious Right here, despite the fact that’s how the bill and its signing have been portrayed in the legacy corporate media.

This is an attack on the Brennan Court. It’s a frontal assault on Stone v. Graham and Brennan’s ludicrous contention that the document which established the basis of our civilization’s moral code has no secular purpose.

The guess is that out of John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch we’d find five justices willing to throw Stone v. Graham out as nonsense.

And if that’s true, what this new law would do would be to help reset the relationship between the states, who are supposed to be sovereign under our constitution, and an obnoxious federal government dominated by busybody leftists who disparage the traditions the country is founded on.

Remember, John Adams said our constitution is “made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Do you think Adams would object to the posting of the Ten Commandments in public classrooms?


So how can doing so be unconstitutional?

The Ten Commandments is not identified with any particular religious denomination. It applies in every Christian sect. It applies in Judaism. It even applies, a bit differently, in Islam. So how is it an establishment of a state religion to promote something which cuts across the vast majority of the religious tracks Americans follow?

News flash: it isn’t. The only way you get there is if you hate religion as a whole.

And that brings us to the American Civil Liberties Union…

This is an outfit which actively defends government censorship as constitutional but won’t allow the precise sort of instruction the framers of the constitution envisioned in our schools.

Where is the credibility?

Attorney General Liz Murrill is not afraid of the ACLU.

This is a good fight for the state to take on, because if this new law ends up breaking down the Brennan interpretation of the Lemon test, it could open a flood of items bringing traditional morality and the basic elements of Judeo-Christian teachings back into our schools.

Nobody seriously argues that moral instruction in those schools has improved since God was banned from the classroom. Instead what you get is name-calling, essentially that religious people are intolerant bigots and that it’s a threat to various groups that they might gain some influence in those schools.

But the results are absurd. School districts are firing football coaches for praying on the field at halftime while those districts are dealing with scandal after scandal surrounding grooming and sexual abuse of kids in their care.

It’s entirely reasonable for a state legislature and governor to turn to the most ecumenical moral document available in an effort to recenter its educational system. It’s also entirely reasonable that the legislature and governor in question would have the power to do so.

Don’t dismiss the Ten Commandments bill as window dressing. This is a real fight about big things, and it’s important to appreciate the historical and constitutional context this belongs in.



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