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Lemon v. Kurtzman

United States Supreme Court
403 U.S. 602 (1971)


Facts

Pennsylvania enacted a statute providing financial support to nonpublic elementary schools, including church-related schools, that gave reimbursement for teacher salaries, textbooks, and instructional materials for some secular subjects. Rhode Island enacted a statute under which the state paid teachers in nonpublic schools, including church-related schools, a 15 percent supplement of their annual salary. Teachers were only eligible for the supplement if they taught subjects offered in public schools with instructional materials used in public schools, and if they agreed in writing not to teach religion classes while receiving the salary supplement. Lemon (plaintiff) was a parent of a child in public school in Pennsylvania. Lemon, other citizens and taxpayers of Pennsylvania, and associations of Pennsylvania residents who believed in the separation of church and state brought suit in federal district court against state officials including Kurtzman, who was the Pennsylvania Superintendent of Public Instruction (defendants), alleging the Pennsylvania statute violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The district court granted the state's motion to dismiss, concluding that the statute did not violate either the Establishment Clause or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Rhode Island citizens and taxpayers brought an action in federal district court challenging the Rhode Island statute. The district court struck down the statute, concluding that the statute violated the Establishment Clause. The United States Supreme Court considered the appeals in both actions.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)

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