Bogusly claiming that the provision would prohibit religious groups from using any university facility that is renovated or repaired with stimulus funding, the Right has been warning that it would lead to religious students being barred from campus and threatening to sue to get it declared unconstitutional through a restraining order.
But then last week, it was reported that the entire section regarding funding for institutions of higher education had been stripped from the bill in order to shrink its cost and the Right seemed content to proclaim victory and move on.
Well, the final version emerged from conference and was passed by both the House and Senate last week and is now awaiting President Obama’s signature today, and guess what? Higher education funding was re-inserted and, along with it, so was this provision, though in slightly altered form:
SEC. 14004. USES OF FUNDS BY INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION.
(a) In General.–A public institution of higher education that receives funds under this title shall use the funds for education and general expenditures, and in such a way as to mitigate the need to raise tuition and fees for in-State students, or for modernization, renovation, or repair of institution of higher education facilities that are primarily used for instruction, research, or student housing, including modernization, renovation, and repairs that are consistent with a recognized green building rating system.
(b) Prohibition.–An institution of higher education may not use funds received under this title to increase its endowment.
(c) Additional Prohibition.–No funds awarded under this title may be used for–
(1) the maintenance of systems, equipment, or facilities;
(2) modernization, renovation, or repair of stadiums or other facilities primarily used for athletic contests or exhibitions or other events for which admission is charged to the general public; or
(3) modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities—
(A) used for sectarian instruction or religious worship; or
(B) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission.
For all the Right’s screaming and yelling about this when the Senate refused to strip the provision from the bill, they have been oddly silent about the fact that it was re-inserted into the legislation during conference negotiations and is now about to become law. As of this point, the ACLJ, Liberty Counsel, Traditional Values Coalition, and every other right-wing group that had been complaining about this for the last two weeks have said nothing..
Where is the outrage? Where are the cries of “discrimination”? Where are the promises of lawsuits?
If, when all is said and done, the Religious Right fails to file suit, that would be pretty shocking considering that they’ve spent the last two weeks railing against this provision as an unconstitutional attack on “religious activity at universities and colleges.” If the Right, especially the ACLJ, does decide not to sue, that is pretty much all the evidence anyone could need that this was a phony “controversy” from the start, spread by people who fully knew that everything they were saying was simply untrue and ginned up only to try and throw a wrench into the legislative process in order to derail President Obama’s agenda.