Lemon v. Kurzman, 1971.
This case dealt with a Pennsylvania law that gave financial payments to private schools (including parochial schools
) to help defray the expenses of textbooks
, the salaries of teachers, and other teaching materials for nonreligious
The court ruled in an 8-1 decision that the Pennsylvania
law was in direct violation of the establishment clause
of the first amendment
. Because the program included aid to parochial school
s, the court ruled that it was of direct benefit to the churches
that ran these schools, thus violating the establishment clause
. It was also found that because of the incredibly close supervision that the law required, it produced an excessive entanglement with religion.
In the majority opinion
, the court held that the the 1st amendment was designed to prevent the evils of "sponsorship, financial support
, and active involvement of the sovereign
in religious activity."
The case also established what is now known as The Lemon Test
, which is a three part litmus test
for state programs. It states:
- The purpose of the aid must be clearly secular, not religious
- Its primary effect must neither advance nor inhibit religion.
- It must avoid an "excessive entanglement of government with religion."
This test has been used in numerous cases since 1971 in deciding the constitutional
ity of state laws.
The case was argued on March 3, 1971 and decided on June 28, 1971.
in the case were:
Henry W. Sawyer III for the appellants.
J. Shane Creamer for the appellees.
William B. Ball for the appellee schools.
The voting went as follows:
Harry A. Blackmun
John M. Harlan
Hugo L. Black
Warren E. Burger
William O. Douglas
William J. Brennan Jr.
Byron R. White
Voting information, and information about dates of argument/decision and lawyers courtesy of Northwestern University Oyez Project.