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Board of Education of Kiryas Joel v. Grumet - Kiryas Joel, Retrenchment And Renewed Controversy, Lower Court Rulings, Challenging The Lemon Test, Legal Impact

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Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District


Louis Grumet, et al.

Petitioner's Claim

That Chapter 748 of New York State Law, enabling creation of a separate school district to provide special education to the children of Kiryas Joel village, did not violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution mandating the separation of church and state.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Nathan Lewin

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Jay Worona

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, David H. Souter (writing for the Court), John Paul Stevens

Justices Dissenting

Antonin Scalia, William H. Rehnquist, Clarence Thomas


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

27 June 1994


Denied the petitioner's claim and upheld the decisions of the New York state trial court and New York court of appeals, which ruled that Chapter 748 of New York State Law impermissibly advanced religion.


The ruling provided further elaboration of the test for deciding violation of the Establishment Clause created in Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971). While neither affirming nor completely abandoning the Lemon test, the Court referred to Lemon throughout its decision. Despite this reference to Lemon, several justices deemed the Lemon test flawed, leaving the future method of decision in Establishment Clause issues in doubt.

Related Cases

  • Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971).
  • Larkin v. Grendel's Den, 459 U.S. 116 (1982).
  • Grand Rapids School District v. Ball, 473 U.S. 373 (1985).
  • Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U.S. 402 (1985).

Further Readings

  • "Church-State Separation Case to be Heard." The Christian Century, January 5, 1994, p. 8-10.
  • Coyle, Marcia. "Drawing a New Line on Religion?" National Law Journal, April 4, 1994, p. A1.
  • Rabkin, Jeremy "The Curious Case of Kiryas Joel." Commentary, November 1994, p. 59.
  • Simon, Barbara A., Esq., "Kiryas Joel's Impact on Separation," http://www.ifas.org/fw/9410/kiryas.
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