A federal judge rejected Elon Musk’s bid to end a 2018 consent decree limiting his ability to freely tweet about Tesla’s business, a court ruling revealed on Wednesday.
Musk’s tweets about Tesla will have to continue with a pre-approval process.
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Musk claimed the settlement provision requiring a Tesla lawyer to preapprove his tweets and other written communications about the stock intrudes on his First Amendment rights, but on Wednesday, Liman said Musk’s free speech rights do not permit any speech that could “be considered fraudulent or otherwise violative of the securities laws.”
The judge went onto say that Musk tweeted several times about his large sales of Tesla shares late last year without obtaining preapproval for the tweets, prompting a subpoena that Musk in February claimed was brought forth only because he is an “outspoken critic” of the government.
“None of the arguments hold water,” Liman said Wednesday, calling Musk’s argument that the SEC has used the settlement to harass him and launch investigations of his speech “meritless” and “particularly ironic.”
“Musk, by entering into the consent decree in 2018, agreed to the provision requiring the pre-approval of any such written communications that contain, or reasonably could contain, information material to Tesla or its shareholders. He cannot now complain that this provision violates his First Amendment rights. Musk’s argument that the SEC has used the consent decree to harass him and to launch investigations of his speech is likewise meritless,” Liman went onto say.
On Monday, Musk blasted the SEC as “shameless puppets of Wall Street short-sellers” and claimed he only tweeted that funding for a deal to take Tesla private was secured because the head of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund had “committed unequivocally” to join him in the venture.
Musk remains free to tweet about his Twitter takeover provided that his posts “do not disparage the company or any of its representatives,” a copy filed with US regulators shows.