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Lemon v. Kurtzman

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BC: Bibliography | Cline, Austin. "Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971): Public Funding of Religious Schools." The New York Times Company, 2012. Web. 23 May 2012. . Farish, Leah. Lemon v. Kurtzman: The Religion and Public Funds Case. Berkeley Heights: Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2000. Print. "Lemon v. Kurtzman." eNotes., Inc., 2012. Web. 23 May 2012. . "Religion in the Public Schools." Anti-Defamation League. Anti-Defamation League, 2012. Web. 23 May 2012. . "Supreme Court Cases: Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971." Pearson Prentice Hall: Supreme Court Cases. Pearson Prentice Hall, n.d. Web. 23 May 2012. .

FC: LEMON v. KURTZMAN (1971) | Mrs. Fallis Drew Hayworth and Brendan McGarry VA and US Government 24 May 2012

1: Table of Contents | Background Information: pg. 2 Journey to the USSC: pg. 6 In the USSC: pg. 10 Aftermath: pg. 14

2: BACKGROUND | Lemon v. Kurtzman is a landmark USSC case dealing with the distribution of public monies to private schools for nonsecular materials, such as textbooks, maps, calculators, teacher salaries, etc. The case is fundamentally three major cases lumped into one: (1) Lemon v. Kurtzman, (2) Earley v. DiCenso, and (3) Robinson v. DiCenso.

3: During the time of Lemon v. Kurtzman, we begin to see the development of tensions in the classrooms of American public schools. Prayer, Bible reading, and posting the 10 commandments in schools has been shutdown by the courts. The landmark case Tinker v. Des Moines (1969) has increased student rights in the public schools in regards to expression. We also see the rise of sexual education in the classrooms as well as integrating black and white students. This case added to the tension in the classroom and helped to redefine the role of government in schools, both private and public.

4: BACKGROUND | As well as the rising tensions in the classroom, we see the courts going through some rough patches. The Court was under criticism after Justice Abe Fortas resigned amid allegations of working under improper influence from financial interests. As well, President Gerald Ford sought the impeachment of Justice William Douglas. The new Chief Justice, Warren Burger, was known to be critical of the media and extremely sensitive to press criticism. These events lead to doubt in America's court systems.

5: Justice Abe Fortas | Chief Justice Burger

6: Journey to the USSC | The suit was filed under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

7: In Pennsylvania, the case was filed under Alton Lemon. He hired a lawyer, Henry W. Sawyer who was an established man known for his winnings on the case Abington v. Schempp (1969) which declared school-sponsored bible reading in school unconstitutional. Suit was filed against David Kurtzman, the superintendent of Public Instruction of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He hired the lawyer William Ball who specialized in First Amendment cases | David Kurtzman

8: Journey to the USSC | After Lemon filed his lawsuit against Kurtzman, Kurtzman made a motion to dismiss the pleadings. He did not want this to go to court, but rather be solved in a civil manner. Lemon continued to press with the suit anyways.

9: In state court, Lemon loses the case and decides to push for an appeal. In parallel, the two Rhode Island cases were being appealed. The Supreme Court granted cert to both cases to hear briefs and oral arguments, eventually deciding to lump the cases together under one Supreme Court case.

10: In the USSC | The Supreme Court at the time of Lemon v. Kurtzman, the Chief Justice was Warren Burger. His court consisted of Justices: White, Marshall, Harlan, Black, Douglas, Stewart, Blackmun, and Brennan. | The Burger Court

11: While Lemon v. Kurtzman was brewing the in the court, a similar case, Tilton v. Richardson (1971) was also being discussed. In Tilton v. Richardson, the issue of giving one-time construction grants to sectarian colleges for the purposes of building non-worship or instruction buildings was on the line. Burger had to ensure that his decision in Lemon v. Kurtzman would not conflict with his decision in Tilton v. Richardson.

12: In the USSC | The roots for the decision of Lemon v. Kurtzman stems from two precedent cases: Board of Education v. Allen (1967) and Walz v. Tax Commission (1970). In Board of Education v. Allen, the issue of loaning textbooks to private schools was ultimately decided to not be a First Amendment violation. The basis behind the decision was that the money went to children and did not directly benefit religion.

13: From these two cases, Chief Justice Burger established three points to be checked when a case deals with government involvement with religion. From Board of Education v. Allen, he created these two points: (1) Whether the state law or activity has a secular purpose (2) Whether its principal or primary effect is to advance or inhibit religion From Walz v. Tax Commission, he established a third check: (3) Excessive government entanglement with religion must not be allowed.

14: Aftermath | These three points would become known as the "Lemon Test" and have been cited over 2200 times since its foundings. In the end, the Court decided unanimously in favor of Lemon. Surprisingly, there was no negative reaction from the press as much of the American public felt support for the Court's decision.

15: This case is so fundamental to our American life today due to the establishment of the three-pronged "Lemon Test" by which a law... (1) Must have a secular purpose (2) Neither advances nor inhibits religion (3) Must not promote an excessive government entanglement with religion | Testing... Testing...

16: Aftermath | Critics of the "Lemon Test" state the last clause is too broad, which leads to swinging decisions by the Court. In general, as a result of the "Lemon Test" states cannot: * help pay teachers in sectarian elementary schools * Contribute to maintaining religious schools' facilities * Help such schools finance field trips to public facilities * Lend those schools maps, charts, films, and other instructional equipment * Reimburse the parents of religious school students for tuition expenses

17: But states can: * Finance the construction of buildings devoted solely to secular purposes on sectarian college campuses * Underwrite a portion of the general operating expenses of religious colleges As you can see, some of these categories are a bit gray, and the distinction between the two can be difficult to determine.

18: Aftermath | Since Lemon v. Kurtzman, we begin to see students given more ability to express their religious beliefs in schools while school officials have lost a lot of their ability. Out of Lemon, we see a strong distinction between establishing religion and allowing religious principles and people into discussions.

19: After lemon their have been two major cases that also deal with the establishment clause and used Lemon v. Kurtzman as its precedent: Aguilar v. Felton (1985) and Agostini v. Felton (1997). Aguilar v. Felton struck down public school teachers to go into religious schools to give help to disadvantaged students. However, Agostini v. Felton reversed that decision and decided that educating religious handicapped students was in the best interest of society and served a legitimate secular purpose.

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Drew Hayworth
  • By: Drew H.
  • Joined: about 6 years ago
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  • Brendan McGarry
    • By: Brendan M.
    • Contributions: 19 photos , 18 pages

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  • Title: Lemon v. Kurtzman
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