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Missouri Family E-News

November 26, 2013

                            
Missouri Catholics Refile Suit Against Drug Mandate  

 

The St. Louis Archdiocese has returned to federal court to once again challenge the federal contraceptive and abortion drug mandate.

 

Archdiocesan officials have joined with Catholic Charities of St. Louis to refile a lawsuit against the contraceptive edict, issued by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

 

Last year both plaintiffs had filed a similar lawsuit, arguing that the contraceptive and abortion drug mandate violated their right to the free exercise of their religion under the First Amendment.

 

Earlier this year, Judge John Ross dismissed the case, concluding that the case was not yet ripe because HHS had not yet finalized its regulations for implementation of the mandate.

 

Sebelius's edict requires that every health insurance plan issued in the United States must include coverage for any "contraceptive" approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  This includes abortifacient devices and drugs such as Ella and Plan B.

 

The mandate provides a religious exemption, but it only includes organized churches and their "integrated auxiliaries."  Non-profit religious ministries and parachurch organizations fall outside the exemption.

 

"We maintain that no citizen should be forced to pay for or provide products or services they find morally objectionable,"  the Archdiocese says in a statement.  "We will continue to demand that the conscience rights of every citizen are protected."

 

"This is the first time in history that the U.S. government has forced Catholic citizens to provide a product that violates our beliefs," the statement continues.  "This lawsuit is not about contraceptives.  It is about religious liberty, our first most-cherished freedom, which must be protected or it will be lost." 

 

     


Atheist Group Seeks to Halt
Student Prayer Club


An atheist organization is dragging a Missouri school district into federal court in order to stop prayer gatherings held on school property.

The American Humanist Association (AHA) is pressing a lawsuit against the school district in Fayette, Missouri. The litigation has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

The suit alleges that Gwen Pope, a former math teacher at Fayette High School, led prayer meetings in her classroom during the school day, and that the prayer sessions were promoted over the school's public address system.

AHA contends that the teacher's participation in the prayer meetings during school hours constitutes an establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment.

Yet the complaint acknowledges that the prayer gatherings occurred prior to the start of classes.  One of the students reports that students themselves led the morning devotionals, and that student members of the club made announcements about the prayer sessions.

Fayette School Superintendent Tamar Kimball says that the district will vigorously defend itself against the charge that it violated any individual's First Amendment rights.

Carl Esbeck, a constitutional law professor at the University of Missouri, believes the case will hinge on whether the prayers happened during a a teacher's "clock hours."

"Outside their clock hours, they are private citizens like anybody else," Esbeck says.  Esbeck is a nationally recognized authority on religious liberty issues.

Missouri's own Constitution protects the right of students and teachers to pray on a voluntary basis in the public schools so long as such religious expression abides by "the same parameters placed upon any other free speech under similar circumstances."

The American Humanist Association has also threatened legal action in recent weeks against school districts in South Carolina and Colorado.  AHA is demanding that the schools cease their participation in the Operation Christmas Child shoebox program.

 
  

Listen to the Broadcast Version of the Jeff City Update online at 
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State Lawmaker Calls for Impeachment of Governor Jay Nixon   


A Missouri state legislator has announced that he plans to file articles of impeachment against Governor Jay Nixon during the coming session of the Missouri General Assembly. 

State Representative Nick Marshall of Parkville says he is taking the action because of Governor Nixon's recent executive order concerning the subject of so-called same-sex "marriage."

Nixon's executive order instructed Missouri Department of Revenue officials to allow same-sex "couples" who claim they have been "married" in another state to file joint tax returns in the state of Missouri.

"I think the Constitution in Missouri is very clear that to be valid and recognized, a marriage must be between a man and a woman," Representative Marshall says.  "To me this issue has nothing to do with gay marriage, but whether or not an executive can simply issue a ruling that goes against the stated will of the voters and the language of the Constitution."

Marshall makes reference to the Missouri Marriage Amendment, adopted by Missouri voters in August of 2004, which enshrined the historic definition of marriage in Missouri's Constitution.  Missouri voters endorsed the measure by a decisive vote of 71 to 29 percent.

"The Governor's use of this executive order is just another example of his willful disregard of the the confines of the law," Marshall continues.  "He has openly disregarded the laws and Constitution of our state and allowed his Administration to do so on multiple occasions.  If we are to live under the rule of law, he cannot be allowed to remain in office."

In his executive order, Nixon re-defined the terms "husband" and "wife" in Missouri tax law to include same-sex individuals and "spouses" who have been lawfully "married" in another state.  Nixon claimed that this was necessary because of a recent Internal Revenue Service ruling that made the same changes in the federal tax code.

Yet the provisions of Missouri's tax code as outlined in state statutes are subject to the overarching language of Missouri's Constitution.  Neither the Legislature nor the Governor can enact laws or implement policies that are inconsistent with the language of the Constitution.

Under Missouri's Constitution, a Governor can be impeached for "crimes, misconduct, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude or oppression in office."

Nixon is certainly guilty of misconduct in defying the express will of the voters as articulated in the Supreme Law of our state.  He is also clearly guilty of "willful neglect of duty," in his failure to protect and defend the Constitution he has sworn to uphold.

Article VII of Missouri's Constitution states that the Missouri House has "the sole power of impeachment."  Were the House to vote (by a simple majority) to impeach the Governor, the case would be tried before "a special commission of seven jurists" to be chosen by the Missouri Senate.  The Governor would only be convicted if five of the seven commissioners found him guilty of an impeachable offense.

In the meantime, State Representative Chuck Gatschenberger of Lake St. Louis has called on Attorney General Chris Koster to issue an attorney general's opinion concerning the legality of Governor Nixon's action.  Gatschenberger said he was "troubled" by Nixon's action, and believes the Governor ignored the Constitution in "allowing tax benefits to gay couples married in other states."   House Speaker Tim Jones has also called on Koster to issue a legal opinion on the issue.

While Koster has yet to issue any formal attorney general's opinion, he did state through a spokeswoman that "Governor Nixon appears to be following the requirements of Missouri law on tax filing, as passed by the Legislature."

Koster's comments reflect a totally political response that skirts the central issue.  While the Governor's executive order reflects some aspects of Missouri law on tax filings, it stands in complete contradiction to the language of the Constitution.  The Attorney General knows full well that any and every state law is superseded by the provisions of the Missouri Constitution.

The Missouri Family Policy Council has sent a letter to Governor Nixon calling on him to rescind Executive Order 13-14.  We will keep you posted on continuing developments on this subject.

You can let Governor Nixon know of your thoughts concerning his lawless behavior by using this link:
Governor Nixon

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