The personal is political: Bipolar court says Jekyll-and-Hyde corporations are persons — except when they're not


On March 1, 2011, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in the case known as Federal Communications Commission v AT&T, finding that corporations cannot assert personal privacy rights, at least insofar as Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for government documents relating to corporate actions are concerned.


The case stems from a FOIA request by AT&T's competitors for documents the had FCC compiled during a 2004 investigation into claims that the recombinant communications behemoth had over-charged schools and libraries for their access to and use of the Internet.


Despite a series of legal findings against it in recent years, and unlike an actual human repeat offender, AT&T were as usual allowed to buy their way out of what amounted to a charge of defrauding the government — which any real human recidivist would likely have been convicted of and gone to jail for — by paying a mere $500,000 fine to settle the case without admitting any wrong-doing.