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Published: July 12, 2011

Lemon v. Kurtzman

A 1971 U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared direct state support of parochial schools in Pennsylvania an unconstitutional violation of the ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE of the FIRST AMENDMENT, which bans state support of any religion. At the time, the state of Pennsylvania was reimbursing about 1,100 nonpublic, parochial schools (mostly Roman Catholic) for salaries of teachers, textbooks and instructional materials related to nonreligious courses. The Court ruling, which effectively overturned a similar law in Rhode Island, limited state funding of private schools to nonacademic activities such as busing, which could not be construed as furthering or inhibiting religious practices.