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CIVIO, A Civil Rights GameThe content on this page supplements CIVIO, a civil rights strategy card game designed by and available from Reach and Teach. Learn more>>

Lemon v Kurtzman (1971)

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Legislation that primarily benefits Roman Catholic schools promotes establishment of religion

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Decided: June 28, 1971
Issue(s): School
Increases: Religion, 1st amendment, Brown v Board of Education

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The Court established a three part test: legislation must have a secular purpose, neither advances nor inhibits religion, and does not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion". In this case, salary supplement legislation primarily benefiting Roman Catholic schools was considered "excessive entanglement" and thus promoted establishment of religion. Government action shouldn't cause non-adherers of a particular faith to feel like outsiders or for the adherers to feel like insiders. In recalling Brown v Board of Education, the Court pointed out that some states used the ploy of channeling public education money into private schools as a way to avoid desegregation.

In the news:

6/27/2005 - In two close (5 to 4) decisions, the Court ruled that the Ten Commandments could not be displayed inside a Kentucky courthouse (McCreary County v. ACLU) but that a monument in front of the Texas State Capitol inscribed with the Ten Commandments is OK (Van Orden v. Perry).

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