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    Washington Post: Supreme Court hesitant to extend ‘personal privacy’ restrictions to corporations

    The Washington Post reports on oral arguments at the Supreme Court in Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T (view the case documents at SCOTUSblog), which includes the question of whether corporations have “personal privacy” rights:

    It might be an understatement to say the Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed skeptical that corporations have “personal privacy” rights that would prevent the government from releasing documents about them. At times, the justices were almost mocking in their questions.

    The case stems from AT&T’s claim that the government should not release certain information about the company when requested under federal public records laws.

    AT&T convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit that an exception in the federal Freedom of Information Act for “personal privacy” extended to the corporation itself. It pointed out that in one provision of the federal law, Congress defined “person” to include “an individual, partnership, corporation, association or public or private organization.”

    But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. told AT&T lawyer Geoffrey M. Klineberg that he did not buy his “central argument” that because “person” includes corporation in one part of the statute, “personal” must include corporations in another part. […]

    Because the case comes nearly a year to the day after the Supreme Court loosened restrictions on corporate electoral spending in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, it was closely watched for whether the court was ready to extend other corporate privileges.

    Instead, criticism of the notion came from all quarters. Justice Antonin Scalia asked for any example “from anywhere, that anybody refers to the interests of a corporation as the ‘personal privacy’ of General Motors? I cannot imagine somebody using the phrase like that.” […]

    The government is supported in Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T by a number of media businesses, including The Washington Post Co.

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