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AT&T asks top court to recognize its ‘personal privacy’

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The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today on a case between AT&T and the Federal Communications Commission, revisiting the legal concept of “corporate personhood” last strengthened under the court’s Citizens United ruling on corporate campaign spending. (That controversial ruling has its first anniversary this week.)

The case before the court focuses on whether AT&T, a corporation, can stop government agencies from releasing information obtained for law enforcement purposes by claiming such disclosures would violate the company’s “personal privacy.”

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The phrase is included as an exemption in the text of the Freedom of Information Act, a federal law that instructs government agencies on what information to make public. As the SCOTUS blog notes, however, there’s no specific definition of the words “personal privacy,” so it’s not clear whether a corporation can qualify as a person in this case.

The lower court, the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, sided with AT&T in an earlier ruling, stating that corporations are capable of being embarrassed, harassed and stigmatized by public disclosures. If the Supreme Court agrees, it could limit how much information federal agencies are able to release about the companies they’ve investigated. (Here’s Bloomberg, with more background.)

In the appeal before the high court, a review of the briefs in support of each side shows a number of news organizations and government openness and watchdog groups backing up the FCC. Major business groups—namely the National Association of Manufacturers, the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable—have filed briefs in support of AT&T.

Justice Elena Kagan, it’s worth noting, was solicitor general at the time when the FCC and U.S. government petitioned the Supreme Court to review the AT&T case. She has had to recuse herself from considering it, and should the court split 4-4 without her, the lower court’s decision would stand.

Kagan’s successor as solicitor general, Neal Katyal, has argued that “a corporation itself can no more be embarrassed, harassed, or stigmatized than a stone.”

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According to early reports on the day’s proceedings, the high court showed signs that it agreed. A transcript [PDF] of the oral arguments has also been made available.

By Marian Wang, ProPublica

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Matt Gaetz forgot which network he was on: Surprised CNN anchor said ‘I’ve never been called Sean Hannity’

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Rep. Matt Gaetz seemed to confuse cable news networks during a Thursday appearance

Gaetz was interviewed by CNN's Chris Cuomo, who aggressively challenged Gaetz on the facts as the Florida Republican attempted to defend President Donald Trump.

Despite the fact Cuomo's interview was nothing like the puff segments Gaetz is used to on Fox, the congressman seemed confused by the end.

"Congressman, you are always welcome, wherever I am, at nine or eleven, whenever," Cuomo said.

"Thanks Sean," Gaetz replied.

"Did you just call me Sean?" Cuomo asked. "Did you just call me Sean?"

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California lawmaker who chaired Republican Assembly caucus leaving GOP — to become an independent: report

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On Thursday, the Sacramento Bee reported that California Assemblyman Chad Mayes, the former Assembly Minority Leader, is leaving the Republican Party and registering as No Party Preference.

"Instead of focusing on solutions for the big problems that we've got, we focused on winning elections," said Mayes in his announcement. "For me, I'm at the point in my life where I'm done with gamesmanship."

Mayes, a controversial figure who was implicated in an affair with a fellow public official, represents Yucca Valley. He is the second Republican Assemblyman this year to leave the party, after Brian Maienschein of San Diego, who Maienschein of San Diego.

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‘Quantum physics generator’ incident in Ohio results in evacuation — hazmat found no radiation

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Authorities in Columbus, Ohio evacuated dozens of homes after a man called 911 to report being burned by a

"Firefighters say nothing threatening was found in a northwest Columbus garage," WCMH-TV reported. "According to firefighters, a man called and reported that he received ‘RF burns’ while building some sort of ‘quantum physics generator’ in a garage. The man used words like ‘particle accelerator,’ ‘alpha rays,’ and ‘radiation’ while describing how he was burned."

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