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.”
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.”
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
At least eight prison officials knew Epstein wasn’t supposed to be left alone — but they did it anyway: report
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that at least eight staffers at the Bureau of Prisons were aware that arrested hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein could be a risk to himself if left unsupervised — raising further questions about why exactly guards left him to his own devices on the night that he allegedly hanged himself.
Investigators reportedly believe that at least some of these officials were aware that he had been left alone. It is unclear why nobody intervened, and the Justice Department is continuing with its investigation. Attorney General William Barr recently ordered the removal of the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons.
Russian disqualified from Tango competition for punching his partner
A Russian participant in the World Tango Championships in Buenos Aires has been disqualified for violence towards his partner, the organizers said Wednesday.
The incident happened after the duo, a husband and wife, took part in the semi-final of the competition on Tuesday in the Argentine capital.
Organizers condemned the assault plus "assisted the victim and made the decision to disqualify the dancer," said a source with the Championships who declined to be named.
Officials did not name the couple in order "to preserve the identity of the victim who declined to file a complaint."
‘His mommy should have told him she loved him a little bit more’: CNN analyst eviscerates Trump over ‘chosen one’ comments’
On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," analyst Gloria Borger laid into President Donald Trump for his bizarre press conference anointing himself "the chosen one."
"'I am the chosen one,' and that comes after the president re-tweeted a conspiracy theorist radio host who said that he is like the second coming," said host Brianna Keilar. "So what do you make of all of this?"
"I think maybe his mommy should have told him she loved him a little bit more," said Borger. "I don't know. It is hard — it is hard to know what to make of this. Some people will say, as Trump says, 'Oh, I was only joking when I said all of that stuff.' But the truth of the matter is that he does this all of the time, and talks about how wonderful he is, and if you recall during his speech at the convention when he talked about the problems the country was facing he was saying 'I alone can fix it.'"