Brigham Young University Prelaw Review


Nathan Dorius


Constitution, church and state, Lemon v Kurtzman


Since the authors of the Constitution first gathered to create the supreme law of the land, the relationship between church and state has often been at the forefront of debate. The contention has been over interpretation of the First Amendment's Religion Clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;... " This portion of the First Amendment has been divided by the courts into two separate "clauses", one being the Establishment Clause and the other being the Free Exercise Clause. In 1947 the United States Supreme Court (hereafter referred to as "the Court") decided in the landmark case of Everson v. Board of Education that "the Religion Clause of the First Amendment--a restraint on the U.S. Congress--was now, through the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause, a similar restraint on state legislative power" (Cord 1982, 101). Since the 1947 decision, several cases have come before the Court with the purpose of removing any and all government aid (federal and state) to parochial schools. The case of Lemon v. Kurtzman questioned the constitutionality of state aid to nonpublic schools whose mission it was to propagate religion (403 U.S. 607). It is the purpose of this paper to examine the Lemon case from both sides of the church-state "wall" in an endeavor to better understand the Court's ruling and its subsequent impact on case law.

Included in

Law Commons