Supreme Court to decide if AT&T is a person

The Supreme Court added the case AT&T v. FCC to its docket on Tuesday, ushering in an argument over, basically, whether AT&T has the legal status of a person on certain issues.

A controversial decision last year loosened campaign finance restrictions on the grounds that corporations are just groups of people, so they should not face certain election rules that individuals do not face. Lyle Denniston at Scotusblog says this case is similar but involves "personal privacy" rather than campaign finance.

The case arose when the company did not want corporate information in the hands of government agencies to become publicly available through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Individuals are protected from that possibility when the documents involve their personal privacy, according to Denniston. 

Information about AT&T's billing practices are on hand at the FCC after a now-resolved investigation. Rival telecommunications companies sought the records, and AT&T protested. A federal appeals court said that AT&T is entitled to the same personal privacy rules that protect individuals, according to the Wall Street Journal.