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Elon Musk Petitions Supreme Court to Shoot Down SEC’s ‘Twitter Sitter’ Rule After Infamous ‘Funding Secured’ Tweet

Tesla CEO and X/Twitter owner Elon Musk has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a prior settlement with the SEC that mandates pre-approval of his tweets about his car company. The SEC’s “Twitter sitter” rule was imposed on Musk after his infamous “funding secured” tweet about a bogus plan to take Tesla private.

CNBC reports that the dispute potentially headed to the Supreme Court originates from the infamous 2018 incident where Elon Musk tweeted about having “funding secured” to take Tesla private, which led to significant volatility in Tesla’s stock price and subsequent SEC charges of civil securities fraud. Breitbart News reported extensively on the situation as it unfolded.

To resolve these charges, Musk and Tesla reached a settlement with the SEC, which included a unique condition: Musk must have his tweets about Tesla reviewed and approved by a designated “Twitter sitter” before posting. This agreement aimed to prevent misinformation and protect investors but has been a point of contention for Musk.

Recently, Musk’s legal team filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that this requirement infringes on Musk’s free speech rights. They assert that the agreement was an unconstitutional condition imposed on Musk, coercing him into relinquishing his right to freely express truthful and accurate information. The crux of their argument hinges on the idea that the settlement restricts Musk’s speech even when it is truthful, extends to areas not covered by the original SEC action, and continuously threatens Musk with potential contempt charges.

Columbia Law School professor Eric Talley described Musk’s move as a significant legal gamble, noting that the doctrine of “unconstitutional conditions,” central to Musk’s argument, is typically invoked in contexts of government disbursing public benefits, not in regulatory settlements.

Talley stated: “It’s at core a very slippery doctrine, but this case is more like the government agreeing to forebear from pursuing charges against someone in exchange for their agreement to cooperate with the terms of the settlement. That’s not general doling out of benefits.”

 

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