Louisiana made news this week for passing a law that mandates the Ten Commandments be displayed on the walls of every public school classroom, including elementary schools, middle and high schools, and all public college classrooms.

The law defies a 1980 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a similar law in Kentucky, so this is certain to be challenged in court — a prospect supporters of the legislation are counting on. “I can’t wait to be sued,” said Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry, who has been rather open about one of the purposes of the law: to challenge Supreme Court precedent on the First Amendment, specifically regarding the establishment clause, which for the past half-century has been used to excise nearly all formal recognition of religion from America’s public schools.

As a vehicle for challenging bad precedent, the law seems sufficient. But another purpose for it, at least according to Landry and other Republicans, is to instruct and mold students. “If you want to respect the rule of law,” the governor said, “you’ve got to start from the original lawgiver, which was Moses.”

This is true as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far. The idea that posting the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms will do anything to inculcate in students a respect for the rule of law, to say nothing of basic morality, is pure fantasy. You might say it’s necessary but not anywhere close to sufficient.

If you want to teach students to respect the rule of law and understand that just laws are based on objective moral standards, then you’re going to have to do more than post the Ten Commandments. You’re going to have to get to the root cause of why these things are not taught in public schools anymore — in fact the opposite is taught, that objective morality is oppressive and that the rule of law is systematically racist.

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