HomeInvestmentReligious Liberty Divides American Jews

Religious Liberty Divides American Jews

In Kennedy v. Bremerton, a decision upholding a public school football coach’s right to kneel in prayer after a game, the Supreme Court buried Lemon v. Kurtzman, a constitutional precedent conceived in 1971 by Chief Justice Warren Burger. For decades this opinion’s three-part test for determining whether a governmental action violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment dominated religious-liberty litigation. From the beginning it divided the American Jewish community.

Some Jewish groups see Lemon’s overturning as a blow to the First Amendment. The Anti-Defamation League mourned its death as “a grim day in education.” The American Jewish Committee called its demise “a serious blow against the Constitution” because it “subordinates conscience protecting aspects of separation of church and state to individual religious expression.”

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