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Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), or “Lemon I,” is best known for its three-part test, which the Supreme Court created to be used in evaluating whether government action violates the Establishment Clause; this provision prohibits the government from making laws “respecting an establishment of religion.” The three parts of the “Lemon test” are that (1) a statute or program must have a secular legislative purpose, (2) its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion, and (3) it must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion (Lemon, pp. 612–613). This entry examines the background ofthat decision and succeeding rulings.

The Original Cases

Lemon I involved jointure of two separate cases interpreting statutes in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania that provided funds and materials ...

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