The Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment

First Amendment

How does the U.S. Supreme Court determine if something violates the Establishment Clause?

The U.S. Supreme Court employs several tests to determine whether something violates the Establishment Clause. The most prominent is the so-called “Lemon test” from the Court’s 1971 decision Lemon v. Kurtzman. The Lemon test requires that the government have a secular purpose, that government regulation does not have a primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion, and that it does not create an excessive entanglement between church and state.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor introduced another test, which she called a “refinement” of the Lemon test. Her endorsement test asks whether a reasonable observer, familiar with the underlying circumstances, reasonably would believe that the government is endorsing religion.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Law Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App