All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And Chief Justice Roberts has taken that to heart.
After handing down a unanimous opinion rejecting AT&T’s argument that because corporations can be considered persons for free speech purposes, they can also be considered to have privacy rights like persons, too, Roberts, writing for the Court, took AT&T to task, denying that corporations have anything like “personal privacy” for purposes of FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). As reported by Slate writer Dahlia Lithwick, the Chief had started during oral arguments for the case:
[T]he chief spent the better part of the hour poking fun at AT&T’s claim that the adjective personal means the same thing as the noun person, such that the statute’s treatment of corporations as “persons” means that corporations are also somehow capable of getting “personal.” As he explained at argument, that claim makes no sense. “I tried to sit down and come up with other examples where the adjective was very different from the root noun,” he observed at the time. “It turns out it is not hard at all. You have craft and crafty. Totally different. Crafty doesn’t have much to do with craft. Squirrel, squirrely. Right? I mean, pastor—you have a pastor and pastoral. Same root, totally different.”
It didn’t stop at oral arguments, either. The opinion took a jab, too.
“The protection in FOIA against disclosure of law enforcement information on the ground that it would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy does not extend to corporations. We trust that AT&T will not take it personally.”
APROPOS: court artist Art Lien added a few extra flourishes to his work on Monday to accentuate the lighter mood, drawing Justice Scalia as a cat and Chief Justice Roberts with a cob of corn in his hand.
“Does new Supreme Court decision in FOIA case stop Citizens United in its tracks?” and related posts (foiadvocate.blogspot.com)
- John Roberts Pokes Fun at AT&T’s ‘Personal Privacy’ (abovethelaw.com)
- Supreme Court Rejects Corporate “Personal Privacy” FOIA Argument (pogoblog.typepad.com)
- Is John Roberts the funniest Supreme Court justice ever? (slate.com)