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Biden administration pushes US Supreme Court to reject Musk appeal in SEC dispute

Elon Musk, Chief Executive Officer of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of Twitter, gestures as he attends the Viva Technology conference devoted to innovation and entrepreneurs at the Porte de Versailles exposition venue in Paris, France, June 16, 2023

WASHINGTON, March 22 (mod1s) - President Joe Biden's administration on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to turn away billionaire businessman Elon Musk's dispute with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Musk in December sought the justices to take up his appeal after a lower court upheld his compliance decree with the SEC that emerged after he announced on Twitter, now called X, in 2018 that he had "funding secured" to take his electric car business Tesla (TSLA.O), opens new tab private. The SEC accused Musk of cheating investors.

Musk's agreement was part of a deal with the SEC in which he and Tesla each paid $20 million penalties, Musk gave up his position as Tesla's chairman and he agreed to let a Tesla lawyer review some statements on Twitter. Musk purchased the social media network in 2022 and rebranded it.
Musk has branded the consent decree a "muzzle" on his fundamental free speech rights. 

The Justice Department in its brief argued that "the settlement term here was reasonably designed to minimize the likelihood that petitioner (Musk) would make future false or misleading statements in violation of the securities laws."

A three-judge panel of the Manhattan-based 2nd U.S. Circuit of Appeals dismissed Musk's argument that the SEC misused the order to undertake harassment investigations into his usage of Twitter.
In its conclusion, the 2nd Circuit concluded Musk could not review the screening of Twitter messages on grounds that he had "changed his mind." The 2nd Circuit in July 2023 dismissed Musk's request to rehear the case. 

Musk's attorneys have contended the SEC had no authority to impose, as a condition of settling, a "gag rule" that they believe violates the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment prohibitions on governmental restraints on free expression. In his December court filing, Musk's attorneys told the justices that permitting the SEC to demand that Musk get pre-approval for some social media postings had granted the agency "intolerable power."

In a separate civil lawsuit linked to Musk, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to revisit its March finding that Musk violated federal labor law by declaring on Twitter in May 2018 that Tesla workers would lose stock options if they joined a union. The 5th Circuit heard arguments in the case in January.


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