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Pastor, Church & LawMember access only

by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

The Lemon Test

§ 12.01.01
Key point 12-01.01. For decades, the most commonly applied test for evaluating the validity of a law or government practice under the First Amendment’s nonestablishment of religion clause was the three-part “Lemon” test. Under this test, a law or government practice that conveyed some benefit on religion would be considered constitutional if it (1) had a clearly secular purpose; (2) had a primary effect that neither advanced nor inhibited religion; and (3) did not foster an excessive entanglement between church and state. All three parts of the test needed to be met in order for the law or practice to be deemed constitutional. In 2022, the US Supreme Court overturned this test, largely because the Court itself said it often criticized or ignored the test. Going forward, the Court said cases should be decided through interpreting the Establishment Clause “by reference ...

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