US Rep. Stupak Reverses Course on Giving Federal Coast Guard Property to Private Christian School
Michigan Messenger reporting on original bill led to pressure on Stupak to change proposed legislation to require school to pay fair market value for land
MICHIGAN - U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D.-Mich.) has changed his proposed legislation
that would have given several acres of Coast Guard property in
Cheboygan, Mich. to the Cornerstone Christian School free of charge,
after constitutional law scholars pointed out the land transfer would
violate the First Amendment separation between church and state.
After Michigan Messenger first reported on this issue
in August, Americans United for Separation of Church and State
contacted Stupak's office and informed it that the legislation as
written was unconstitutional.
Last week, Stupak wrote to the group saying that he was changing the bill to require that the property be sold to the school at fair market value as required by the law.
The original bill language proposed that the land would be transferred to the private Christian school "without consideration," meaning that the land would be given to the school without compensation.
Peter Irons, a professor emeritus of law at the University of
California at San Diego, told the Michigan Messenger in August, "Rep.
Stupak's bill would allow the government to provide a 'gift' to a
religious group of property that is owned by all taxpayers, including
those with no religious faith. This is precisely the kind of religious
preference the Constitution forbids and the Supreme Court has ruled
against in numerous cases."
Stupak's religious ties have recently garnered attention. The Michigan Messenger reported in recent month's about Stupak's membership
in the shadowy Christian group that calls itself variously "The Family"
or "The Fellowship." Stupak lives at The Family's now-infamous C
Street house on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
information, or to speak to Michigan Messenger's Editor following this
story, Ed Brayton, please contact Hanaa Rifaey at 313.915.0154.
The Michigan Messenger is a local news site covering politics and policy throughout the state Its team delivers original reporting daily. The Michigan Messenger is published by the nonpartisan and nonprofit Center for Independent Media.