The first amendment states that Congress shall make no “law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (Lemon v. Kurtzman). This section of the first amendment refers to the establishment clause and free exercise clause and in other words this prevented the government from investing any of its resources to a particular belief system, or prevent anyone from practicing their own belief system, creating a separation of church and state. When it comes to education states have to fund their public schools mostly with taxes, but what about non-public and non-secular schools?
“The Pennsylvania Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed in 1968 in response to a crisis that the Pennsylvania Legislature found existed in the State’s nonpublic schools due to rapidly rising costs. The statute affirmatively reflects the legislative conclusion that the State’s educational goals could appropriately be fulfilled by government support of ‘those purely secular educational objectives achieved through nonpublic education” (Lemon v. Kurtzman). Pennsylvania adopted statutes that provided the state the ability to fund the salaries of teachers, textbooks, and instructional material for secular educational services to non-secular and non-public elementary and secondary schools at the expense of taxpayers.
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Alton Lemon was the lead plaintiff on the case. Appellant Lemon, in addition to being a citizen and a taxpayer, is a parent of a child attending a public school in Pennsylvania. Funds for this Act came from taxes on horse and harness racing and cigarettes. “Lemon also alleges that he purchased a ticket at a racetrack and thus had paid the specific tax that supports the expenditures under the Act. Appellees are state officials who have the responsibility for administering the Act” (Lemon v. Kurtzman). Lemon had a standing in this case as a tax-paying citizen of Pennsylvania, as a parent of a child that attended a Pennsylvania public school, and specifically for the taxes collected from the sales of a racetrack ticket he purchased. All these actions directly infringed on his first amendment right, because the money collected from these associated taxes went to Catholic schools since they made up a majority of the states private schools, and this is money that could have went to public schools and supported a religion he did not believe in.
“A school seeking reimbursement must maintain prescribed accounting procedures that identify the ‘separate’ cost of the ‘secular educational service.’ These accounts are subject to state audit” (Lemon v. Kurtzman). This is an example of the government’s involvement with non-secular non-public schools and how they have entangled themselves and are now respecting the establishment of religion since, they are directly funding, and now auditing them to ensure public money allocated to the schools are going to secular education programs only, both unconstitutional under the Establishment and Exercise Clause.
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