• On March 1, 2011, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to hold that the FCC was correct in refusing the apply the “personal privacy” exemption of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to AT&T. Just six weeks after it heard oral argument, where it was openly skeptical of AT&T’s arguments, the Court released its unanimous written opinion that corporations enjoy no “personal privacy” under FOIA, even though AT&T is a “person” under that statute. The Court disagreed with AT&T’s linguistic argument that every “person” under FOIA must “necessarily” have a right of “personal” privacy: “Adjectives typically reflect the meaning of corresponding nouns, but not always,” Chief Justice Roberts explained. “Crab” and “crabbed”; “corn” and “corny”; “crank” and “cranky” were used to prove the point. “When it comes to the word ‘personal,’ there is little support for the notion that it denotes corporations, even in the legal context,” the Court found. Having rejected each of AT&T’s arguments and reversed the Third Circuit, the Court concluded, tongue in cheek, “We trust that AT&T will not take it personally.” FCC v. AT&T Inc., No. 09-1279.
  • On February 24, 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the appeal of DISH Network from the District of Nevada’s denial of a motion to enjoin the FCC from enforcing its rule on satellite high-definition (HD) rebroadcasting of public television. DISH argued that the 2010 Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, which requires satellite providers to broadcast PBS in HD if it broadcasts major network channels in HD, is an impermissible content-based regulation of speech in violation of the First Amendment. The Ninth Circuit concluded that Congress enacted the law “to promote fair competition, not suppress free speech,” and that “it was reasonable for Congress to conclude that allowing satellite carriers to delay offering PBS in HD would lead to anticompetitive results.” The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that DISH was not likely to succeed on the merits of its case, and thus could not satisfy the standard for injunctions. DISH Network Corp. v. FCC, No. 10-16666 (9th Cir.).