A business privacy case that comes before the U.S. Supreme Court today may rekindle a debate among the justices over whether corporations are like people, even to the point of suffering embarrassment.
The case, set to be argued in Washington, pits the Obama administration against AT&T Inc. over the release of documents stemming from a government investigation of the company. The question is whether corporations can invoke a Freedom of Information Act provision that protects against invasions of “personal privacy.”
As with a corporate campaign spending case the court resolved a year ago, the answer may reflect the justices’ differing views about the nature of corporations. In siding with AT&T, a lower court said companies can be embarrassed and stigmatized just like human beings — a contention the Obama administration scoffed at.
“A corporation itself can no more be embarrassed, harassed or stigmatized than a stone,” acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal, President Barack Obama’s top Supreme Court lawyer, argued in papers filed with the court. [emphasis mine. read more]
EDIT: I feel the need to add the following… on top of President Hu’s visit to the U.S., I believe this should be the biggest news story of the day.