Corporate Privacy

In the last two days, three remarkable things – in my life, anyway – have occurred. Justice Scalia has written two straight opinions with which I agree and Justice Roberts has made me laugh. Normally, of course, I don’t trouble you with my personal reactions to judicial opinions; they are what they are and when one piques my interest, my job is to explain it as best I can.

Both of the opinions by Justice Scalia require a longer post than I have time for today. The chuckle from Justice Roberts came in the Court’s opinion today holding that corporations – however much they get preferential treatment as real people – do not get treated as real persons with a right to “personal privacy” under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The corporation in the case, AT&T, argued that it was entitled to personal privacy. Here is the last paragraph of Justice Robert’s opinion for the Court.

We reject the argument that because “person” is defined for purposes of FOIA to include a corporation, the phrase“personal privacy” in Exemption 7(C) reaches corporations as well. The protection in FOIA against disclosure of law 12 FCC v. AT&T INC. enforcement information on the ground that it would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy does not extend to corporations. We trust that AT&T will not take it personally.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed.

It is so ordered.


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