Key point 12-01.01. The most commonly applied test for evaluating the validity of a law of government practice under the First Amendment's nonestablishment of religion clause is the three-part "Lemon" test. Under this test, a law or government practice that conveys some benefit on religion will be constitutional if it (1) has a clearly secular purpose; (2) has a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion; and (3) does not foster an excessive entanglement between church and state. All three parts of the test must be met in order for the law or practice to be constitutional. The Supreme Court has recognized limited exceptions to this test.
In 1971, the Court held that its establishment clause decisions since Everson could be embodied in a three-pronged test: "First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect ...
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