Tesla shareholders who filed a lawsuit against company CEO Elon Musk for his Twitter usage will have to wait to see what comes of the case after a Delaware judge denied a request to pursue legal action against the head of the electric car company.
Vice-Chancellor Joseph Slights III, a judge in Dover, Delaware, shelved a request by attorneys for Tesla shareholders who sought a lawsuit that intended to halt CEO Elon Musk’s use of his personal Twitter account to share information about the electric automaker.
The lawsuit, which was filed in 2019, was put on hold by Judge Slights on May 20, 2020, stating attorneys did not demonstrate sufficient reasoning to allow the Delaware state court to continue with legal proceedings, MarketWatch reported.
Some followers and Tesla supporters have stated that Musk’s tweeting should be controlled. After openly saying his disagreements with how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled, Musk tweeted things like “Now give people back their FREEDOM,” and lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner.
However, stopping the Tesla CEO’s tweeting would be a violation of the First Amendment, and Slights seemed to recognize that Musk was doing nothing wrong but practicing free speech.
It is not the first time Musk has been contacted about his tweeting. The Securities and Exchange Commission opened up a lawsuit against Musk in 2018 after the Tesla CEO tweeted about taking Tesla private. The infamous Twitter posting made national headlines after Musk hinted toward taking the automaker’s stock private at $420 per share, a satirical number infamous with cannabis culture.
The SEC then attempted to have Musk held in contempt of court after tweeting Tesla’s 2019 vehicle production goal for the fiscal year. Regulators felt that the sharing of this figure was a violation of the SEC lawsuit’s settlement, which required the Commission to oversee Musk’s tweets that could affect the company’s stock value.
In an interview with 60 Minutes, Musk stated, “Twitter is a warzone,” and that his tweeting shouldn’t be monitored because of his First Amendment right.
While Musk abided by the settlement and stated the United States Constitution protected his words, he added, “I want to be clear: I do not respect the SEC.”
When Lesley Stahl, the 60 Minutes correspondent responsible for covering the story, asked Musk why he was abiding by the settlement, Musk clearly explained that he was not respecting the SEC’s wishes, but he was respecting the justice system.
The shareholders who initiated the lawsuit believe that Musk is not willing to abide by the SEC’s agreement and that any “rational” Tesla lawyer could have approved none of his recent tweets.
Slights stated he would revisit his decision if Musk’s conduct results in “likely” harm to shareholders. Currently, he states that the mindset of Musk’s tweeting harming shareholders is “speculative.”
“The decision will be clearer if more of a pattern emerges, especially an unchecked pattern…At this point, though, what’s done is done,” Slights said.