Lemon v. Kurtzman

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Lemon v. Kurtzman
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Date decided June 28, 1971
Overturned by
Kennedy v. Bremerton School District


A Rhode Island statute provided a salary supplement to private school teacher. In 1970, 95% of Rhode Island private schools were Catholic.

However, teachers were able to receive government reimbursement for secular courses. The same scheme was in place in Pennsylvania.

Procedural History

Lemon (plaintiff) was a parent of a child in a Pennsylvania public school. Lemon sued state officials including Kurtzman, (defendants), for violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.


Does government funding of Catholic (or another religion) school teaching secular courses violate the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment?


Government subsidies to religious schools are unconstitutional.


Lemon test requires

  1. Government action must have a secular objective
  2. Government action may not promote or inhibit any religion
  3. Government action may not result in excessive government entanglement with religion.