Monday, August 10, 2009

Berg on Lemon v. Kurtzman

Thomas Berg, University of St. Thomas School of Law, has posted Lemon v. Kurtzman: The Parochial-School Crisis and the Establishment Clause, which is forthcoming in Law and Religion: Cases in Context, ed. Leslie Griffin. Here’s the abstract:
This chapter in the Law and Religion volume of Aspen's forthcoming "Cases in Context" series traces the background and implications of Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), the case that is famous for its 3-part Establishment Clause test and that also inaugurated a series of decisions in the 1970s and early 1980s striking down state efforts to assist parochial schools and the children attending them. In addition to summarizing the arguments, holding, and general implications of Lemon, the chapter draws attention to background and nuances: the parochial-school financial crisis that triggered these laws, the vigorous but unsuccessful attempt of the NAACP and other plaintiffs to challenge the laws for allegedly promoting white flight from urban neighborhoods, and factors (including changes in religious and racial demographics) that contributed first to the rise of Lemon's no-aid approach and then to its decline in recent decisions such as the Cleveland voucher case.

1 comment:

Ngoc Nguyen said...

In this case it talks about whether or not paying the salaries of teachers in parochial schools and assisting the purchasing of textbooks or other teaching supplies and how teachers were getting paid by the government to teach secular, not religious, subjects.
In my opinion, I think it's okay for the states to be spending their money to operate private religious school as long as it passed the Lemon test. The decision I think was right and now the courts can decide if a law is in violation of the Establishment clause by using the lemon test.
I think the later decisions such as denying the help to religious schools will show it was a form of discrimination against religion which is not allowed under the first amendment. The Establishment Clause was designed to avoid state sponsorship, financial support, and active involvement of the sovereign in religious activity.