Speaker Johnson backs Ten Commandments mandate in Louisiana

Speaker Johnson backs Ten Commandments mandate in Louisiana

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said he supports Louisiana’s new law mandating the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public school classrooms and said he thinks the law will survive legal challenges.

“I’m supportive of it, yeah,” Johnson told reporters Wednesday. “And I think it should pass court muster. I think there’s a number of states trying to look to do the same thing, and I don’t think it’s offensive in any way. I think it’s a positive thing.”

The controversial Louisiana law requires every public school classroom in elementary and high schools to display the Ten Commandments on easily readable posters, starting in 2025. The posters must also include three paragraphs about the religious text’s influential role in American history.

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry, a Republican in a deeply conservative and religious state, signed the bill last week after it sailed through the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature — where Johnson used to work.

Johnson speculated about the incentives of his former colleagues in passing the legislation.

“The intent behind it is that they’re trying to acknowledge our history and tradition in the country. I mean, obviously, the Ten Commandments have a huge impact, and they’re very important in the development of our — well, of all of Western civilization, but certainly of our country. And I think that’s what they had in mind,” Johnson said.

“What the Louisiana Legislature is trying to do — those are my old colleagues down there, I know what they’re up to — they’re trying to reemphasize the importance of that foundational part of our country, and that should be permissible,” he later added. “It’s not an establishment of religion. It’s not. They’re not trying to enforce any particular religious code. They’re just saying this is part of the history and tradition.”

The new law instantly prompted legal challenges.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), along with other civil liberties groups, filed a lawsuit on behalf of families from different religious backgrounds, arguing the new law violates their First Amendment rights.

Johnson, however, noted he used to litigate similar cases, and said he expects the case ultimately to make its way to the Supreme Court, where he expects the ACLU to ultimately fail.

He pointed to a similar case from the 1980s, Marsh v. Chambers, in which the court upheld the practice of starting legislative session with a legislative prayer, noting it “is deeply embedded in the history and tradition of our country.”

“I think this Court is open to effectively affirming what the court did in the early ’80s, with Marsh v. Chambers and other cases like that. So we’ll see how it turns out. But yeah, I’m supportive of it,” Johnson said.

Johnson joins other conservatives in backing the new law. Former President Trump similarly expressed his support for the mandate.

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