Update: In a 5-4 decision penned by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court ruled that "closely held" corporations can't be required to provide contraceptive coverage, thanks to the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
In his decision, Alito wrote that the government failed to demonstrate in court that the contraceptive mandate as it stands is the "least restrictive means" of providing birth control at no extra cost. "There are other ways in which Congress or HHS could equally ensure that every woman has cost-free access to the particular contraceptives at issue here and, indeed, to all FDA-approved contraceptives," Alito wrote. The opinion then brings up the contraceptive mandate "compromise" currently available to religious non-profits who object to the law as an example:
Although HHS has made this system available to religious nonprofits that have religious objections to the contraceptive mandate, HHS has provided no reason why the same system cannot be made available when the owners of for-profit corporations have similar religious objections. We therefore conclude that this system constitutes an alternative that achieves all of the Government’s aims while providing greater respect for religious liberty. And under RFRA, that conclusion means that enforcement of the HHS contraceptive mandate against the objecting parties in these cases is unlawful.
The decision leaves unanswered the question of whether publicly-held corporations are also considered "people" under the RFRA, instead limiting its reach to "closely-held," private companies, and to objections to the contraceptive mandate. It doesn't apply to religious employers who would like to challenge coverage for, say, blood transfusions on religious grounds. "Nor does it
provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination
as a religious practice," Alito added.
Justice Kennedy, believed to be the "swing vote" on this case after oral arguments, filed a separate concurring opinion for the majority in which he suggests that the government could pay for the coverage Hobby Lobby refuses to provide to its employees, as SCOTUSblog reported. In addition to Kennedy's concurring opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed a 35-page dissent in the case. She read from her dissent on the bench on Monday. Justices Breyer and Kagan filed a separate dissenting opinion.