Corporations: People or not? | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Corporations: People or not?

Posted By on Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 12:49 PM

Several readers have commented today on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that, when it comes to an invasion of privacy exception to the Freedom of Information law, corporations are not people and cannot claim the protection. AT&T was fighting release of some documents.

The ordinary meaning of "personal" does not refer to an impersonal company, [Chief Justice John Roberts] he said.

"We do not usually speak of personal characteristics, personal effects, personal correspondence, personal influence or personal tragedy as referring to corporations or other artificial entities," he wrote. "In fact, we often use the word 'personal' to mean precisely the opposite of business-related: We speak of personal expenses and business expenses, personal life and work life, personal opinion and a company's view."

As one correspondent wrote, I'll leave it to the learned chief justice and his editorial admirers to parse that ruling along with the one in which he and four others upended precedent (something Roberts had sworn he honored) and said corporate speech was the same as that of human beings as far as the First Amendment (campaign spending) was concerned.

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