LAW 532-001 – Constitutional Law II

Lemon Test


The Lemon test is one of the Supreme Court's test to determine whether a law can survive an establishment clause challenge.

For a statute to be valid under the Lemon test:

  1. The statute must have a secular legislative purpose.
    • There is some dispute about whether it must be a primarily secular purpose or just a secular purpose.
  2. Its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion.
  3. The statute must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion."
    • Sometimes this is merged with the second prong.

The Lemon test has been the clearest and most popular of the Supreme Court's establishment clause tests, but even it has been abandoned now, though without a clear replacement.