Elon Musk escalating his efforts against his SEC deal with Supreme Court appeal

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks with Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, Superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, during the Ira C. Eaker Distinguished Speaker Presentation in the Academy's Arnold Hall on April 7, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Trevor cokley)

Elon Musk’s efforts against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are not over just yet. As per Attorney Alex Spiro, Musk intends to approach the Supreme Court to determine if the SEC’s consent decree, which dictates what he can communicate about electric vehicle maker Tesla’s financial matters on Twitter (which has now been rebranded to “X”), went too far. 

Musk attracted the SEC’s attention in August 2018. At the time, Musk had posted on Twitter that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private, a statement that has since been challenged. That being said, in a trial last year, Musk’s former chief of staff claimed that the Tesla CEO had a “handshake deal” with representatives from the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund before the infamous tweet was posted on Twitter.

The deal ultimately did not materialize, TSLA shares became even more volatile than they usually were, and shareholders attributed losses to Musk’s posts. The Commission filed a lawsuit against Musk, arguing that the tweets could be considered fraud.

Musk and the SEC eventually reached a settlement, which included a resolution that required both Musk and Tesla to pay a combined total of $40 million in fines. It also required Musk to step down from his position as the chairman of Tesla’s Board of Directors. Finally, the settlement required Musk to seek legal approval before posting anything related to Tesla’s financials on Twitter. 

Musk has since stated that he was pressured into accepting the deal with the SEC. The Tesla CEO also suggested that the SEC exploited the decree to harass him with investigations regarding his usage of Twitter. Musk and his legal team would later attempt to have judges reevaluate the case, but their efforts have so far been unsuccessful. In a decision last May, the appeals court panel argued that Musk could not revisit the screening of his tweets simply because he had changed his mind. 

Musk’s legal team, however, has argued that the SEC had no right to impose an unconstitutional “gag rule” as a condition to reach a settlement. As per Musk’s lawyers, the decision “posits that Mr. Musk either had to forego a settlement with the SEC or give up his right to challenge the constitutionality of the SEC’s demands.” The lawyers also noted that “Supreme Court law holds otherwise.”

Whether or not the US Supreme Court would hear Musk’s appeal remains to be seen. Though as per Reuters, the Supreme Court typically only hears arguments in about 70 of the 5,000 or so cases that it reviews annually.

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Elon Musk escalating his efforts against his SEC deal with Supreme Court appeal
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