A Better St. Louis. Powered by Journalism.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Print
  • Email

Koster won't appeal ruling on law allowing firms to decline contraception coverage

In Backroom

4:42 pm on Thu, 04.11.13

Updated at 10:44 am on Fri, 04.12.13

Attorney General Chris Koster won’t appeal a federal court decision striking down a new state law that allows employers to exclude contraception, abortion or sterilization from insurance coverage.

Chris Koster
Chris Koster

Koster, a Democrat, asked the federal judge who wrote the decision to amend her ruling so that religious organizations could exclude contraceptive coverage if they’re exempt under federal law.

Last year, the Missouri General Assembly overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of legislation saying that employers could not be forced to provide insurance coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization if such coverage violated their religious or ethical beliefs. The Missouri Insurance Coalition ultimately filed a lawsuit to strike the measure down.

Earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Fleissig ruled that the law, known as SB749, violated federal requirements in the Affordable Care Act. Fleissig, a former U.S. attorney who served during President Bill Clinton’s administration, noted that in case of a conflict, federal law supersedes state law. Republicans, including House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, had urged Koster to appeal Fleissig’s ruling.

But in a brief, Koster’s office stated that it “recognizes, and does not seek to relitigate or appeal, this court’s ruling regarding the supremacy of the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage provisions to insurance carriers, businesses and individuals who, by their conduct, have freely chosen to enter the stream of commerce.”

The brief went onto ask the court to “alter or amend its judgment as applied to religious employers, such as the Archdiocese of St. Louis, that have been explicitly exempted by the Obama administration from the ACA’s contraceptive mandate.

“Without alteration or amendment, the court’s ruling would subject Missouri’s religious employers to an insurance mandate that is not required by federal law, was never contemplated by the Missouri General Assembly, and cannot be supported by principles of federal preemption,” the brief stated.

In a statement, Koster said "the Republicans’ attempt to deny contraceptive coverage to women in Missouri is just plain foolishness.” 

“The Republican effort to deny contraceptive coverage cannot be supported by case law or sound public policy,” he added.

While Republicans did aggressively push SB749, it wouldn’t have become law without the votes of seven Democratic House members who voted to override Nixon’s veto. Several Democratic senators voted for the measure as well.

Lamping says decision is 'typical' of Koster

Start of update: State Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, handled SB749 in the Missouri Senate. He said in a telephone interview that he wasn’t surprised by the attorney general’s decision, adding that it’s “typical Attorney General Koster fashion.”

John Lamping
John Lamping

“Every time I’ve seen Koster decide things, he’s always decided to go both ways,” Lamping said. “’I’m against it, but I’m for this. I won’t join the lawsuit, but I have my amicus brief. Oh, I’m not going to appeal it, but I want the judge to do this.’ That’s typical Chris.”

But the first-term senator said he was surprised that Koster called the measure “foolish,” adding that “an overwhelming percentage of Missourians think not – they’re happy that we did that.” He also said that the word choice may have had to do with his likely gubernatorial bid in 2016.

“I would have thought that after Zweifel decided not to run, Attorney General Koster wouldn’t be so concerned about a primary,” Lamping said. “But I guess he feels he needs to be out on the left until the time comes that nobody files against him in a primary.”

Lamping went onto say that the federal lawsuits filed against contraception mandate will ultimately decide what happens with the issue.

“Until we get to a point where there’s a general sense that the legal aspects of the mandate are settled, I think we just wait and watch that,” Lamping said. “There’s nothing we’ll do in the next five weeks. … We know how long these things take and we’re just going to see what happens." (End of update.)

1 Comment

Join The Beacon

When you register with the Beacon, you can save your searches as news alerts, rsvp for events, manage your donations and receive news and updates from the Beacon team.

Register Now

Already a Member

Getting around the new site

Take a look at our tutorials to help you get the hang of the new site.

Most Discussed Articles By Beacon Members

Conference of American nuns will mull response to Vatican charges

In Nation

7:55 am on Fri, 08.03.12

Meeting in St. Louis next week, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will have its first opportunity as an assembled group to consider what to do after the Vatican issued a mandate for change this spring. It calls on the conference to reorganize and more strictly observe church teachings.

The 'free' Zoo

In Commentary

7:51 am on Tue, 05.22.12

When a family of four goes to the St. Louis Zoo, they can be forgiven for not knowing it will cost them $60, $72 if they park. If they can't pay, the alternative is to tell the kids they can't do what kids do at the zoo.

Featured Articles

House sends Boeing incentive bill to Nixon

In Economy

12:55 pm on Fri, 12.06.13

The Missouri House easily passed legislation aimed at attracting production of the 777x, a move that wraps up a legislative special session that saw little suspense and few surprises. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, who has strongly supported the legislation.

Gandhi inspired Mandela on South Africa's 'Long Road to Freedom'

In World

10:10 am on Fri, 12.06.13

Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, was a towering moral figure of the 20th century -- along with Mahatma Gandhi. It was no coincidence that Gandhi and Mandela, whose paths never crossed directly, both embarked on their campaigns against discrimination in South Africa. It was when Mandela won election as South Africa’s first black president that Gandhi's influence became apparent.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Encore: Dead before death

In Performing Arts

12:58 am on Fri, 12.06.13

For years , the author was certain he would never come to appreciate The Grateful Dead, let alone be a Deadhead. But little by little, he's come around. He talks about his conversion and relates a real evolution: by a musician who went on to play with the Schwag, a Dead cover band.

Featured Articles

Schlichter honored with St. Louis Award

In Region

4:57 pm on Tue, 12.03.13

The attorney has founded Arch Grants, which brings together nonprofit philanthropy and commercially viable opportunitiesto fund new business startups, and Mentor St. Louis, which finds adult mentors for elementary students in the St. Louis Public School System. He was the driving force behind the state's historic tax credit program.

BioGenerator sets open house to celebrate new digs for entrepreneurs-in-residence

In InnovationSTL

12:29 pm on Tue, 11.12.13

BioSTL's BioGenerator organization is on the move as its entrepreneurs-in-residence find a new home in 4,300 square feet of office and conference space in an old automobile factory. The blossoming program, which helps BioGenerator's portfolio companies to get off the ground, continues to pay dividends within the growing biotech community.

Ambassadors aim to soften rough landing for St. Louis immigrants

In InnovationSTL

6:34 am on Fri, 11.08.13

The St. Louis Mosaic Project is set to hold an orientation for its new ambassadors -- dozens of foreign and native-born volunteers who aim to help make the community a more welcoming place for those from other nations. Participants will be expected to do everything from visiting local restaurants serving international cuisine to having dinner with an immigrant to the area.

Recent Articles

More Articles

Innovation and entrepreneurial activity are on the rise in St. Louis, especially in bioscience, technology and alternative energy. The Beacon's InnovationSTL section focuses on the people who are part of this wave, what they're doing and how this is shaping our future. To many St. Louisans, this wave is not yet visible. InnovationSTL aims to change that. We welcome you to share your knowledge, learn more about this vibrant trend and discuss its impact.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Featured Articles

Featured Events:

Upcoming Events

View Full Calendar

More About The Beacon Home