Elon Musk can usually be described as the richest man in the world. As such, and given his general mien, personality and willingness to name his child a string of capital letters and numbers, it’s safe to say he hasn’t many regrets. He does have one, though, and that is signing that goddamned 2018 settlement in which he agreed not to just tweet whatever random, market-moving thought had just popped into his head.
The Tesla CEO said he felt pressured to settle the SEC’s civil lawsuit at the time and added: “I never lied to shareholders. I would never lie to shareholders. I entered the consent decree for the survival of Tesla, for the sake of its shareholders.”
Fair enough. He just lied to the SEC about ever having any intention of living up to the terms of that settlement, beyond the one that let him still be CEO of Tesla, then. Still, now that a court has told him that it can’t just order the SEC to pretend that the consent decree doesn’t exist, Musk would like it to just shred the consent decree entirely, in spite of the fact that it’s, you know, allowing him to still be CEO of Tesla, and without it, the SEC would presumably seek to stop him from doing that, instead of just tweeting wildly.
In a motion filed in Manhattan federal court, Mr. Musk’s lawyers argued that the Twitter oversight policy has become unworkable, while the Securities and Exchange Commission has abused the deal to make “round after round of demands for voluminous, costly document productions, with no signs of abatement.”
Hahaha “has become unworkable.” It was, as Musk well knows, never workable, because he was never going to abate the things it was designed to stop him from doing, whatever piece of paper he signed. Unfortunately for Elon and fans of his short-form prose, federal courts are no more likely to invalidate consent decrees people freely signed than they are to prevent any attempt at enforcing them.
A federal appeals court in Manhattan recently rejected another SEC defendant’s request to invalidate his settlement based on his claim that it blocks him from denying the allegations and therefore curbs his speech rights.
“It is exceedingly difficult to convince a federal court to terminate a consent decree,” [Indiana University law professor Donna] Nagy said. “The showing required is very high and there is very recent precedent in an analogous area.”
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