menu

Lemon v. Kurtzman at 50

Lemon v. Kurtzman at 50 June 3, 2021

I just published an essay over at Law & Liberty on the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court case Lemon v. Kurtzman 403 U.S. 602 (1971). It is the case in which the Court gave us The Lemon Test. Unimaginatively titled, “Lemon v. Kurtzman at 50,” here’s how the essay begins:

2021 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Court case, Lemon v. Kurtzman. Its majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice Warren Burger, is well-known for giving us what would come to be called “The Lemon Test,” a three-pronged analytical tool that Burger claimed is the “cumulative criteria developed by the Court over many years.” It was, in Burger’s mind, a succinct summary of what “may be gleaned” from the Court’s prior rulings in Establishment Clause cases: “First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion, … finally, the statute must not foster `an excessive government entanglement with religion.’” According to Burger, if the law or policy in question fails any one of the test’s three prongs, then the law or policy violates the Establishment Clause.

You can read the rest of the essay here.


Browse Our Archives