Texas state Dems run out clock on vote for 10 Commandments bill

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


Texas lawmakers failed to vote on a bill that would require public schools to display the 10 Commandments in classrooms.

Democrats who opposed the legislation used a delay tactic to run the clock past a midnight deadline for the vote, essentially killing it for the current legislative session. The New York Times reported that the strategy, known as “chubbing,” is a stall tactic whereby legislators extend floor debate on a measure beyond the set deadline in order to circumvent a vote.  The tactic also successfully prevented the Republican-led state House from reaching a vote on several other bills.

Republican state Sen. Phil King introduced Senate Bill 1515 earlier this year which would require each “elementary and secondary” public school in the state to display a copy of the 10 Commandments “in a size and typeface that is legible to a person with average vision from anywhere in the classroom.” 

“I think this would be a good, healthy step for Texas to bring back this tradition of recognizing America’s religious heritage,” King said at the time, according to a Daily Wire report

“Senate Bill 1515 restores a little bit of those religious liberties that were lost and most importantly will remind students all across Texas of the importance of a fundamental foundation of America and Texas law and that being the 10 Commandments,” he added.

The bill passed in the Texas Senate in a 17-12 vote along party lines last month and received initial approval from a House committee on May 16.

Critics denounced the measure as a flagrant violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment regarding the separation of church and state. 

“This bill was an unconstitutional attack on our core liberties that threatened the freedom of and from religion we hold dear as Texans. It should never have gotten this close to passage,” ACLU of Texas lawyer David Donatti said in a statement.

Republican state Sen. Mayes Middleton, who co-sponsored the bill, argued that “There is absolutely no separation of God and government, and that’s what these bills are about,” in a statement to The Washington Post

“That has been confused; it’s not real. When prayer was taken out of schools, things went downhill — discipline, mental health,” he added.

Rachel Laser, president and chief executive of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told The New York Times that the Texas bill was part of a broader “Christian Nationalist Crusade.”

“Forcing public schools to display the Ten Commandments is part of the Christian Nationalist crusade to compel all of us to live by their beliefs,” Laser said, adding: “It’s not just in Texas.”