Research and Analysis of significant case law


Researchand Analysis of significant case law

Churchand State in education

Eversonv. Board of Education

Factsof the case:the case was filed by Everson, a taxpayer in New Jersey to challengethe reimbursement of funds to parents for transportation of theirchildren to and from parochial school. He argued that reimbursementfor children attending religious school was unconstitutional sincethe government would be supporting a particular religion usingtaxpayers’ money.

Issue:The issue is this case iswhether parents of children in private schools attending religiousstudies should benefit from similar services offered by thegovernment to parent of children in other schools and whether thestate supports a religion by reimbursing the mentioned parents.

Decision:The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appealstating that the reimbursement was constitutional and thus thestatute in the bill was constitutional.

Reasoning:The court reasoned that the statute was design to treat all childrenand parents equally irrespective of their religion. Additionally, thepayments were made to parents and not religious organizations.Dissent:Dissenting opinion maintained that there is a need for adherence tothe Establishment Clause and separation better the church and thestate.

Analysis: The decision of the Supreme Court was based on the fact that thefunds were only reimbursed for transport costs. This means that byreimbursing the parents, it can not be argued that the state isfunding activities in parochial schools. Thus, the statute does notchallenge the Establishment Clause, and is therefore constitutional(Schultz&amp Vile, 2015).

Lemonv. Kurtzman

Factsof the case: Thecase was filed by Alton Lemon against the David Kurtzman for thestate of Pennsylvania. The petitioner argued that the state statutes that allowedreimbursement of religious schools for teachers’ salaries andeducational materials since it violated the Establishment Clause.

Issue:TheSupreme Court was to determine whether financial support to religiousschool offering secular subjects was constitutional.

Decision:TheSupreme Court ruled in favor of Lemon arguing that the state law wasagainst the Establishment Clause in the first amendment of the UnitedStates constitution.

Reasoning:The judges unanimously agreed that the statutes in the state lawresulted into entanglement of the state and religion.

Dissent:Therewas no dissent as all the eight judges supported the unanimousdecision.

Analysis: Thefoundation of the case ruling is the separation of the church andstate. The framers of the first amendment foresaw inherent problemsif the state is entangled in religion. Based on this reasoning, thecourt formulated what is referred to as the lemon test whichdetermines the constitutionality of legislations that definesrelationships between state and the church (Kritzer&amp Richards, 2003).

Lee v. Weisman

Factsof the case:The case was filed by parents of Weisman against the decision ofNathan Bishop School principles, Robert Lee invite a Jewish rabbi tothe school graduation ceremony. The district court denied the parentsand injunction but the case reached the Supreme Court where theschool principle appealed the decision of the lower court. Issue:The Supreme Court was required to determine whether inviting areligious leader to offer prayers at a school graduation ceremonyviolated the Establishment Clause.

Decision:The court ruled that schools can not sponsor clerics to administerprayers in a school event.

Reasoning:TheSupreme Court view was that the action of the school principleviolated the religion clause in the constitution. This is because theprinciple instructed the cleric to offer prayers and gave guidelineson how it should be done. By doing so, the principle expressedprevalence of one religion, which is against the constitution.

Dissent:Although there was concurrence among the judges that the governmentthrough its officers and institutions should not engage in religiouspractices, the dissenting argument was based on the tradition ofnonsectarian prayers in public celebrations.

Analysis:Theruling was based in the establishment clause which prohibits thestate from engaging or interfering with religious activities.However, religious interference or reference is determined by whetherthe purpose was secular, effects on religion freedom and whether itresults into excessive entanglement of the state with the religion(Davis, 2010).


Davis,D. (2010). TheOxford handbook of church and state in the United States,New York: Oxford University Press.

Kritzer,H. M. &amp Richards, M. J. (2003). &quotJurisprudential Regimes andSupreme Court Decision-making: The Lemon Regime and EstablishmentClause Cases&quot. Law &amp Society Review 37 (4): 827–840.

Schultz,D. &amp Vile, J. (2015). TheEncyclopedia of Civil Liberties in America.Routledge, ISBN 1317457137.