LEMON v. KURTZMAN

Print this Page
Case Basics
Docket No. 
89
Petitioner 
Kurtzman
Respondent 
Lemon
Consolidation 
Earley v. DiCenso, No. 569
Robinson v. DiCenso, No. 570
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
(Argued the cause for the appellee schools)
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

This case was heard concurrently with two others, Earley v. DiCenso (1971) and Robinson v. DiCenso (1971). The cases involved controversies over laws in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. In Pennsylvania, a statute provided financial support for teacher salaries, textbooks, and instructional materials for secular subjects to non-public schools. The Rhode Island statute provided direct supplemental salary payments to teachers in non-public elementary schools. Each statute made aid available to "church-related educational institutions."

Question 

Did the Rhode Island and Pennsylvania statutes violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause by making state financial aid available to "church- related educational institutions"?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Lemon, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Establishment of Religion

Yes. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Burger articulated a three-part test for laws dealing with religious establishment. To be constitutional, a statute must have "a secular legislative purpose," it must have principal effects which neither advance nor inhibit religion, and it must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion." The Court found that the subsidization of parochial schools furthered a process of religious inculcation, and that the "continuing state surveillance" necessary to enforce the specific provisions of the laws would inevitably entangle the state in religious affairs. The Court also noted the presence of an unhealthy "divisive political potential" concerning legislation which appropriates support to religious schools.

Cite this Page
LEMON v. KURTZMAN. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 31 July 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1970/1970_89>.
LEMON v. KURTZMAN, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1970/1970_89 (last visited July 31, 2014).
"LEMON v. KURTZMAN," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 31, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1970/1970_89.