Lemon v. Kurtzman

Vourtny Trejo v. Steven Veltran

10 December 2014


  • 1960’s-1970’s: Court focuses on

issues of separation of church & State

  • Court adopts philosophy of looking at each case on a case-by-case basis to avoid prior contradictions.
  • Examples being Walz v Tax Emission 1970 & Everson v Board of Education 1947
    • “excessive entanglement” & “state-aided transport”.

Issues/ Points of Law (Generally)

  • 1st Amendment Case.
    • Violate establishment clause by helping, or violated free exercise clause by not helping.
  • Establishment: gov. can’t favor one religion, or favor religious over nonreligious.
  • Free Exercise: reserves citizen right to religious rituals/beliefs. Seemingly, allows for violation of laws for religious reasons.
    • Ex: no church taxes, peyote.

Issues/ Points of Law (Who’s Who?)

  • Lemon argued that state funding favored one religion over another.
    • Referenced Walz v Tax Commission (1970) which prohibited “excessive entanglement”.
    • Excessive Entanglement because extra state funds, but also involved in teaching and book keeping.
  • Kurtzman argued that withholding state assistance violated the free exercise clause of these religious, private schools.
    • Referenced Everson v Board of Education, not favoring a school just “equalizing”


  • Court voted 8-0 in favor of Lemon.
  • Justice Burger wrote of three main evils that the establishment clause can’t afford protection.
    • Sponsorship, financial support, and “active involvement of the sovereign in religious activity”
    • Came up with a Three Part Lemon Test

Lemon Test

Judgement Day

  • So it was decided in favor of Lemon because the law providing state-aid didn’t pass the third rule.
    • Too much “excessive entanglement”.
  • Warren decided this by having supervisors making sure extra aid only equalized.


  • States could no longer supplement salaries of private, religious school teacher or buy them better classroom materials.
  • Reinforced the Walz v Tax Commission case of 1970.
  • Reversed the Everson v Board of Education decision.
  • TODAY: Other cases still use the lemon test.
    • Agostini v Felton & Zorach v Clausen


Thank you for listening!

By Steven Veltran and Vourtny Trejo

Twi Twitter: @Veltran14 @ktw44

lemon test - Google Slides