Twitter/X boss Elon Musk is asking the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the legality of the consent decree that he previously entered into with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to reports.
Reuters reports that the consent decree came after Musk, posted a message on X in August 2018.
In the post, Musk said two things:
- That he had secured the funding necessary to make his electric car company, Tesla, private for $420 per share
- That he had “confirmed” the “investor support” needed for the deal.
As NBC News reports, “Trading in Tesla was halted after his tweets, and shares remained volatile in the weeks that followed.”
The SEC ended up charging Musk with civil securities fraud, alleging that Musk’s social media posts improperly influenced the price of Tesla stock.
Musk would go on to reach a settlement agreement with the SEC, and this settlement included a consent decree.
As part of the agreement, Musk and Tesla were each required to pay $20 million in fines, Musk was required to step down as the chairman of Tesla, and Musk was required to have a Tesla lawyer preapprove some of his social media posts.
Musk has particularly taken issue with this last requirement, which he has referred to as a “muzzle.”
He has taken the matter to the courts, arguing that this amounts to a violation of his free speech rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Musk, at the lower court level, was unsuccessful.
“In its ruling, the three-judge panel said Musk could not revisit the screening of Twitter posts because he had ‘changed his mind.’
“The 2nd Circuit in July denied Musk’s request to rehear the case.”
On Thursday, Musk and his lawyers asked the Supreme Court to get involved.
NBC quotes Musk’s lawyers as writing that the settlement “restricts Mr. Musk’s speech even when truthful and accurate.”
Musk’s lawyers continue, writing, “It extends to speech not covered by the securities laws and with no relation to the conduct underlying the SEC’s civil action against Mr. Musk.
“And, it chills Mr. Musk’s speech through the never-ending threat of contempt, fines, or even imprisonment for otherwise protected speech if not pre-approved to the SEC’s or a court’s satisfaction.”
Essentially, Musk and his legal team are arguing that this part of the consent decree is an impermissible prior restraint.
We’ll have to see if the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court agree.
However, they will first have to decide whether or not to hear the case.