Print Issue Volume 99 - Issue 1

A Corporate Right to Privacy

The debate over the scope of constitutional protections for corporations has exploded with commentary on recent or pending Supreme Court cases, but scholars have left unexplored some of the hardest questions for the future, and the ones that offer the greatest potential for better understanding the nature of corporate rights. This Article analyzes one of those questions — whether corporations have, or should have, a constitutional right to privacy. First, the Article examines the contours of the question in Supreme Court jurisprudence and provides the first scholarly treatment of the growing body of conflicting law in the lower courts on this unresolved issue. Second, the Article examines approaches to determining the scope of corporate constitutional rights and argues that corporate privacy rights should be evaluated not by reference to the corporate form itself or a notion of corporate personhood, but rather by reference to the privacy interests of the various people involved in the corporation and their relationship to the corporation. Further, because corporations exist along an associational spectrum — from large, publicly traded corporations constituted purely for business purposes to smaller organizations with social, political, or religious purposes — the existence of a corporate privacy right will and should vary.

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