Supreme Court Cases: Establishment Clause

Supreme Court Cases:
Establishment Clause
Establishment Clause
 “Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion. . . .”
 Intended to prohibit:
the establishment of a national religion by Congress
the preference by the U.S. government of one religion over
West Virginia v. Barnette (1943)
Background Information
 The West Virginia Board of Education required all
children and teachers to salute the flag as part of
daily activities
 Refusal to salute the flag was considered
“insubordinate” and punishable by expulsion
 Question: Did the compulsory flag-salute for public
schoolchildren violate the First Amendment?
West Virginia v. Barnette (1943)
 6 votes for Barnette, 3 votes against
 Yes, Supreme Court overruled an earlier decisions
and stated compelling public schoolchildren to salute
the flag was unconstitutional
 Forcing students to have a compulsory unification of
opinion violated the 1st Amendment because they
could not force citizens to confess “by word or act
their faith therein”
West Virginia v. Barnette (1943)
 Barnette overturned a previous decision in
Minersville School District v. Gobitis that involved
Jehovah's Witness children in which the Court stated
that the proper recourse for dissent was to try to
change the school policy democratically
 Barnette decision only prohibits students and faculty
from being compelled to salute the flag and say the
pledge of allegiance as a protection of the 1st
Amendment rights
Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
Background Information
 At the time financial aid was being made available
for secular objects to non-public schools in
Pennsylvania and Rhode Island
 Some teachers were given direct supplemental
salary payments if they taught in “church-related
educational institutions”
 Question: Did the Rhode Island and Pennsylvania
statutes violate the First Amendment's
Establishment Clause by making state financial aid
available to "church- related educational
Lemon v Kurtzman (1971)
 8 votes for Lemon, 0 against
 Yes, state financial aid available to "church- related
educational institutions” unconstitutional because of
its entanglement with the Establishment Clause
Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
 Established 3 part “Lemon” test for dealing with
religious establishment statues:
Must have a secular legislative purpose
The effects of law cannot inhibit nor advance religion
Must not result in an excessive government entanglement with