The Lemon Test and the U.S. Constitution

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Analysis of the Lemon Test for determining alignment with the Constitution’s first amendment

The first amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establish of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom for speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

According to Nicholson, the “Lemon Test” is used to determine when a law or policy has the effect of establishing religion. The test consists of three prongs: the 1st prong is used to determine the school board’s intent in introducing the statement, the 2nd prong asks whether the action promotes or prohibits religion, and finally the 3rd prong addresses whether an action creates excessive “entanglement” between church and state. The Lemon Test is the logical criteria used by the Supreme Court to Decide Lemon V. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602(1971). This case involved laws in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island that permitted public funds to go to church related schools. The funds were allocated to pay teacher’s salaries partial and to provide instructional materials to help educate students and the books that were needed for the classroom. If the states decided to use the public money for parochial school, this created an entanglement between religion and government. Under the ruling of Krutzman v. Lemon, teachers who only taught secular subjects using only materials available in the regular public schools could be eligible to receive public funds and keep their jobs.

Because the states have no competence in religious matters, government is prohibited from sanctioning any particular religion by codifying its confession of faith into civil law. The first amendment is freedom, do we have that today, school budgeting and finance is not...
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