Balancing the right to religious freedom with the need for equal treatment under the law “can be difficult,” Justice Anthony Kennedy noted on June 30 with characteristic blandness. It gets more difficult still when the U.S. Supreme Court rules that “closely held corporations” can refuse on religious grounds to offer their employees contraception coverage.
The 5-to-4 decision is a messy, sprawling affair. The majority insists that its reach is narrow, while the dissent holds otherwise. What’s clear is that the ruling will needlessly complicate not only constitutional and corporate law but also—at least as significant—health care for women who work at such companies.