Lemon v. Kurtzman: The Parochial-School Crisis and the Establishment Clause
LAW AND RELIGION CASES IN CONTEXT, Leslie Griffin ed., Aspen Publishers, Forthcoming
40 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2009
This chapter in the Law and Religion volume of Aspen's forthcoming "Cases in Context" series traces the background and implications of Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), the case that is famous for its 3-part Establishment Clause test and that also inaugurated a series of decisions in the 1970s and early 1980s striking down state efforts to assist parochial schools and the children attending them. In addition to summarizing the arguments, holding, and general implications of Lemon, the chapter draws attention to background and nuances: the parochial-school financial crisis that triggered these laws, the vigorous but unsuccessful attempt of the NAACP and other plaintiffs to challenge the laws for allegedly promoting white flight from urban neighborhoods, and factors (including changes in religious and racial demographics) that contributed first to the rise of Lemon's no-aid approach and then to its decline in recent decisions such as the Cleveland voucher case.
Keywords: Establishment clause, separation of church and state, Lemon test, religious education, First Amendment, religious liberty, desegregation, funding of religious activities
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