No, not that contraception mandate. But this decision could help in the fight against that mandate.
Yesterday, a federal court struck down a Washington state law that requires pharmacies to dispense the morning after pill, or "Plan B." As I explained in an earlier post, the lawsuit (Stormans v. Selecky) was filed by the owners of a family pharmacy called Ralph’s in Olympia and two individual pharmacists, Rhonda Mesler and Margo Thelen. They objected to Plan B because of its ability to work as an abortifacient (see Paul Rahe's post below).
The legal hurdle was overcoming the Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which holds that the right to “free exercise” of religion can be abridged by “neutral and generally applicable” laws. "Neutrality," however, is a slippery concept in constitutional law. In Massachusetts, for example, it is considered "neutral" for a school district to mandate that kindergartners learn about gay marriage, notwithstanding the parents' objections. Here, the judge correctly noted that the law is not neutral because it contains all sorts of exemptions for secular conduct but not for religiously-motivated conduct and thus amounts to an “impermissible religious gerrymander.”
When the HHS contraception mandate comes to Court, it is even less likely to succeed. As a federal regulation, it is subject to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which subjects all burdens on free exercise to "strict scrutiny," even facially neutral laws (see Ed Whelan's essay here). But if, for some reason, a court has to reach the constitutional issue, this Washington decision is a great precedent.