(a) RFRA applies to regulations that govern the activities of closely held for-profit corporations like Conestoga, Hobby Lobby, and Mardel. Pp. 16-31.The Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS) mandate requiring all for-profit employers to provide twenty free contraceptive types (including four which stop an already fertilized egg from developing) restricts the free exercise of religion. Hobby Lobby, Conestoga and Mardel were willing to pay for sixteen of the twenty which did not kill already fertilized eggs.
(b) HHS’s contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion. Pp. 31-38.Even though the Court assumed the Government's argument that providing free contraceptives was of compelling state interest, the Court ruled that the Government had not used the "least restrictive means" to reach that goal.
(c) The Court assumes that the interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to the four challenged contraceptive methods is a compelling governmental interest, but the Government has failed to show that the contraceptive mandate is the least restrictive means of further that interest. Pp. 38-49.A significant problem for the Government was the fact that they had found a "least restrictive means" for religious and non-profit organizations. That there was a less restrictive means was shown by the Government itself in its "accommodation" for those religious and non-profit employers.
(c) (2) The Government has failed to satisfy RFRA’s least-restrictive-means standard. HHS has not shown that it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal without imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion. The Government could, e.g., assume the cost of providing the four contraceptives to women unable to obtain coverage due to their employers’ religious objections. Or it could extend the accommodation that HHS has already established for religious nonprofit organizations to no-profit employers with religious objections to the contraceptive mandate. That accommodation does not impinge on the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs that providing insurance coverage for the contraceptives at issue here violates their religion and it sill serves HHS’s states interests. Pp. 40-45