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Elon Musk appeals ‘government-mandated muzzle’ decision

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Elon Musk is appealing an agreement he made with the SEC, in which a lawyer is required to overlook some of his activities on Twitter.

It is no secret that Elon Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have had a long and complex relationship, with both parties often criticizing the actions of the other. Most recently, the two found themselves entangled in a lengthy court battle regarding a tweet that claimed that funding had been secured for Tesla. In the settlement that resulted from that court case, Elon Musk agreed to have a lawyer oversee some of his activities on Twitter, a deal which he would now like out of.

As reported by Reuters, Elon Musk is appealing to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to alter the deal he previously cut with the SEC. During opening remarks, Musk’s lawyers called the Twitter oversight requirement a significant limitation on his First Amendment rights, coining it a “government-mandated muzzle” for the Tesla CEO. In response, legal representation for the SEC argued that Musk willingly entered the deal and was spared harsher punishment by accepting the limits on his Twitter use.

In refuting the claim that this deal limits Musk’s First Amendment rights, the SEC notes that the lawyer who monitors Musk’s Twitter use is a private party and is not connected to the government. Hence, the limitation on his speech is not stemming from “government oversight.”

The infamous “funding secured” trial, which concluded in 2022, did not find Elon Musk liable for any damages, though his tweet was deemed false by a Federal judge in San Francisco. The short tweet was published in late 2018, with some Tesla investors arguing that it had prematurely indicated that Musk had acquired financing for Tesla when he had not. In turn, some investors claimed that they had been misled. Elon Musk has maintained that he believes the tweet was truthful.

Along with Elon Musk agreeing to the limitations on his Twitter activity, he was forced to pay $20 million in civil fines and give up his Tesla chairmanship, which he has since regained.

Looking to today’s case, the chance of Elon Musk overturning his SEC deal seems slim. As noted in Reuters’ reporting, this appeal is the second time Musk has attempted to rid himself of the Twitter limitation, with the first opportunity being blocked late last year.

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Elon Musk appeals ‘government-mandated muzzle’ decision
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