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The Endorsement Test

Research by Jim Allison.
In a concurring opinion in Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), Justice O'Connor interpreted the "purpose" and "effect" prongs of the Lemon test in such a way as to place primary emphasis on the issue of government endorsement of religion. According to O'Connor,

Similarly, O'Connor stresses the issue of endorsement under the effect prong of Lemon:

It is important to understand that the endorsement test does not replace the purpose and effects prongs of the Lemon test; it is merely O'Connor's interpretation of these prongs. Nevertheless, O'Connor's argument has been influential, and the Court has made reference to the test in several recent decisions. Additionally, there is some confusion about the relationship between the endorsement and Lemon tests. Some scholars understand the endorsement test as an addition to standards outlined in Lemon, while others view it as a minimal formulation of Lemon, i.e., that while endorsement may not be the only thing that violates the purpose and effects prongs of the Lemon test, it is the first and most important evidence that such a violation has occurred.

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