US Appeals Court Orders Musk to Abide by SEC Tweet Settlement

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The Facts

  • The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Monday ruled that Elon Musk cannot back out of the settlement he agreed to with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) following his 2018 tweets that claimed he had the funding to take Tesla private.

  • In upholding the settlement, which requires Musk's tweets to be approved by a lawyer before he can post them, the court rejected Musk's claim that the SEC was exploiting the consent decree "to conduct bad-faith, harassing investigations of his protected speech."

The Spin

Narrative A

As this consent decree is a government-imposed muzzle on Elon Musk, the Twitter CEO's lawyers are right to pursue further litigation until his First Amendment rights are returned. Musk agreed to acknowledge his past poor judgment and pay some fines — not to allow the SEC to monitor his every thought and block him from exercising his free speech rights on his own social media platform.

Narrative B

Even though Elon Musk agreed to have his tweets reviewed by a lawyer and the SEC had the right to investigate breaches of the agreement, the agency still only probed three out of his countless tweets since the settlement was signed. Despite Musk's decision to waive his First Amendment rights, the government has not come close to violating his freedom of speech.

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