Adrienne Lawrence

Legal analyst, law professor & award-winning author

Share
Opinion

Louisiana’s Ten Commandments law proves Gov. Landry is corrupt

Share

Adrienne Lawrence

Legal analyst, law professor & award-winning author

Share

On June 20, GOP Gov. Jeff Landry of Louisiana signed into law a new bill that requires all public Louisiana school and university classrooms to display a poster-sized printout of the Bible’s Ten Commandments. The law violates existing legal precedents regarding the First Amendment and is expected to be challenged in the Supreme Court, although there is speculation that today’s conservative Supreme Court will overturn that precedent and allow the new law to stand.

Watch the above video as Straight Arrow News contributor Adrienne Lawrence argues how the new Louisiana law violates existing law and why she says we need stronger civil and criminal penalties for politicians who knowingly violate the Constitution.


Be the first to know when Adrienne Lawrence publishes a new opinion every Wednesday! Download the Straight Arrow News app and enable push notifications today!


The following is an excerpt from the above video:

And speaking of history, more than 40 years ago, the Supreme Court made clear in Stone versus Graham that the First Amendment bars public schools from posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms. That is settled law. Governor Landry is a lawyer, he knows this. And he also knows that his new law will not pass constitutional muster and will be challenged with the quickness, which is why he proudly stated in response to this new law: “I can’t wait to be sued.”

Lawsuits aren’t enough to stop this undemocratic abuse of authority that we continue to see from right-wing leaders like Landry. They wield their power too aggressively and unapologetically, erode the separation of church and state. These individuals are public servants who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, yet they’re out here passing laws in express contravention of it to appease hardcore Christian conservative ideologies. They are breaking the law to the detriment of our democracy.

How is forcing religion on public school students and teachers not a violation of oath of office, or a deprivation of the rights of others under color of law, or arguably a treasonous act that betrays one’s country? Taken alone, these things are criminal acts deserving of punishment.

Religion, how important is it to you? I can tell you that it’s not as important to me as being free from religion. And it appears that I may not be alone in that sentiment. According to Gallup polls 50 years ago, 87% of US adults identified with a Christian religion. Today that number has dropped by 20%. With just about 67% of folks claiming to be Christian. Yeah, most of adults in the US have shifted away from Christianity, to no religion at all. That shouldn’t be an issue, or even a problem at all, for our government. Freedom of and from religion, are some of the legal tenets upon which our nation was founded. It’s a right that the US purports to guarantee us all under the First Amendment hard stop. So why are so many conservative right wing leaders out there who claim to love America and democracy using their position of power to undermine our constitutional right by pushing religion upon us. And I say it’s because they face no actual consequences for violating our core rights and undermining our democracy. Case in point, the blatantly unconstitutional legislation that just came out of Louisiana, as if you were operating with the might of Moses himself. Governor Jeff Landry signed a law requiring that the 10 commandments be displayed in every public classroom in the Pelican State. Every public elementary, middle and high school, as well as public college classrooms will bear the effects outlined in Exodus 20 of the King James Bible. Add to that the law requires that each one of these posters also include a three paragraph statement, asserting that the 10 commandments were a prominent part of American public education for almost three centuries. It’s funny that history Louisiana actually wants to acknowledge But I digress. And speaking of history, more than 40 years ago, the Supreme Court made clear in stone versus Graham, that the First Amendment bars public schools from posting the 10 commandments in classrooms, that is settled law. Governor Landry is a lawyer he knows this. And he also knows that his new law will not pass constitutional muster and will be challenged with the quickness, which is why he proudly stated in response to this new law, I can’t wait to be sued.

 

Lawsuits aren’t enough to stop this undemocratic abuse of authority that we continue to see from right wing leaders like Landry. they wield their power to aggressively and unapologetically erode the separation of church and state. These individuals are public servants who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. Yet they’re out here passing laws and express contravention of it to appease hardcore Christian conservative ideologies. They are breaking the law to the detriment of our democracy, how it’s forcing religion on public school students and teachers, not a violation of oath of office, or a deprivation of the rights of others under color of law, or arguably a treasonous act that betrays one’s country. Taken alone, these things are criminal acts deserving of punishment, simply because the wrongdoer rest in the governor’s mansion should not mean that they get to operate with impunity when they attack the rights of We the People. Some would say that Landry and other leaders were voted in by We the People and thus, we should be the ones to remove them as punishment. While I do agree with that, I also fully appreciate that the electoral system is broken, too many votes out there are disenfranchised. Plus, removing these bad actors from office or the threat there of simply is not enough anymore. Public servants need to suffer actual consequences for frivolously exploiting taxpayer funds to politically posture in contravention of the US Constitution, just like abusive plaintiffs face sanction in court for filing frivolous lawsuits. Perhaps the appropriate punishment is one that should be doled out by the courts. Maybe it’s in the form of paying legal fees out of pocket for advancing a wholly frivolous legislation, doing manual labor and community service for all the taxpayer funds that they have wasted with ridiculous enactments or some other penalty that is fitting of the offense. Because the only way that these leaders will stop abusing their power to undermine our constitution is if they suffer some consequences beyond just the mere possibility of being booted out of office. We deserve better. Now I get that our Constitution is a living, breathing document, and it is necessary, sometimes to pass laws that challenge existing precedent, as legislation is effectively a manifestation of the will of the people

 

At the same time holy, frivolous challenges to core constitutional rights should not be entertained by our judiciary without consequence. Here, the first matter addressed in the First Amendment to the US Constitution, asserts that our government shall make no religion. Our forefathers who were not a fan of King Henry, the ACE theocratic nonsense, were theoretically intent on separating church and state that is having a government that has nothing to do with pushing one particular religion. Sure, our forefathers actions proved to be a tad hypocritical. What particularly saying is we have in God we trust on our currency to this day. Even so, the constitutional law is clear that you cannot force religion on people in public schools. Governor Landry and other right wing leaders do not get to trim a little fat off the constitution so that they can force their mystical Christian doctrines down our throats, as if we’d signed up for a theocracy. They’re unconstitutional attempts to do so. should be punished for what they are a blatant attack on our democracy.

More from Adrienne Lawrence