Why is the ruling significant?
The ruling is significant because it is the first time the justices found that a corporation has a right to exercise freedom of religion under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. We don’t really know what is going to happen now.
What are the implications of this ruling with regard to the religious freedom of corporations and similar exemptions?
This is an invitation for litigation. It potentially opens the door to other claims of religious exercise by corporations. For example, a corporation could say it doesn’t want to hire someone who is living with a person he or she is not married to because it is contrary to the corporation’s religious beliefs.
In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested the decision could have very significant implications for future ligation from corporations regarding a variety of civil rights laws. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said they do not believe corporations would make wider claims in the future, but he never said why they wouldn’t.
This was the first major challenge to Affordable Care Act since the Supreme Court upheld most of the law in 2012. What does this ruling mean for "Obamacare," and does it open the door to other legal challenges to the law?
It is certainly possible that this will lead to other essential healthcare benefits in the Affordable Care Act being challenged. But this was not a constitutional challenge, and the Affordable Care Act will go on. This case is going to be more important for a wider range of other civil rights laws. What is really at stake here is the federal government’s ability to regulate how corporations treat their employees.