In a 5-4 ruling, the justices decided that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, for-profit organizations controlled by a limited number of shareholders should not be forced to provide insurance-covered contraceptives like birth control to employees because such laws violate the religious rights of owners.
The Green family, who founded the arts and crafts chain based in Oklahoma City, expressed their belief that certain contraceptives destroying a fertilized egg were similar to abortion and violated their Christian beliefs.
The family had never attempted to claim any sort of exemption from other laws due to religious purposes.
This ruling is considered a major setback to President Obama’s healthcare law and it could set precedence for other companies wishing to claim religious exemption from other laws.
The Supreme Court wouldn’t go as far as to say that companies could exercise the same free speech rights as individuals under the First Amendment, though.
“A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends,” Justice Samuel Alito said via USA Today.
“Protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga and Mardel protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies.”