Attorney General Chris Koster today announced he will not appeal a court ruling that a Missouri law is unconstitutional. However, he is asking the federal court to make exceptions for certain religious organizations. Legislators had passed a bill that maintains the rights of employers to deny coverage for contraception based on their religious beliefs. The bill exempted Missourians from federal law, but a federal judge struck down the law as unconstitutional.
“The Republicans’ attempt to deny contraceptive coverage to women in Missouri is just plain foolishness,” Koster said in a press release. “The Republican effort to deny contraceptive coverage cannot be supported by case law or sound public policy.”
The federal case was brought by insurance carriers caught between a federal law requiring the inclusion of contraceptive coverage in federally regulated healthcare plans and a state law exempting insurance carriers, businesses, and individuals claiming a moral, ethical, or religious objection to contraception. U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig found the state law conflicted with the federal mandate that all insurance carriers provide coverage for contraception. The Court ruled that under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, federal law preempts conflicting state law.
Koster said while acknowledging the supremacy of federal law as it applies to the majority of Missouri employers, he has asked the court to clarify its ruling so that federal exemptions applicable to religious employers, such as the Archdiocese of St. Louis, remain in effect.