Citing the constitutional supremacy of federal laws over state-level legislation, U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig has struck down a 2012 Missouri law that “required insurers to issue policies without contraception coverage if individuals or employers objected because of religious or moral beliefs.”
The law was meant to effectively nullify Obamacare provisions requiring all employers to provide contraceptive coverage without an additional co-pay. It was passed after the Missouri state legislature overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s (D) veto of the measure.
In an effort to mollify concerns from conservative critics of the contraception mandate, the Obama Administration recently issued clarifying rules on which employers — specifically, religious organizations — will be exempt from the Obamacare provision. Still, that hasn’t stopped for-profit companies like the crafts chain Hobby Lobby from bending over backwards to avoid complying with the law and providing their workers with affordable birth control.
Legally speaking, however, such companies are reaching when they claim that the Obamacare mandate is invalid under current law, and judicial decisions that claim otherwise are simply incorrect. In fact, a Bush-appointed judge rejected a legal challenge to the reform law’s contraception requirement from a Missouri-based Catholic business owner late last year, writing that, federal religious freedom law “is a shield, not a sword” that “is not a means to force one’s religious practices upon others.” Ultimately, the issue will likely be settled by the Supreme Court.