Religious organizations won a landmark victory Wednesday as the Supreme Court held that churches have the right to make employment decisions free from government interference over discrimination laws.

In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court endorsed for the first time the “ministerial exception” to state and federal employment discrimination laws while rejecting the Obama administration’s argument that churches should be treated no differently than other employers.

“The interest of society in the enforcement of employment discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important. But so too is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith, and carry out their mission,” said Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who wrote the court’s 39-page opinion.

“When a minister who has been fired sues her church alleging that her termination was discriminatory, the First Amendment has struck the balance for us,” Chief Justice Roberts said. “The church must be free to choose those who will guide it on its way.”

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