back to article Musk takes SEC 'Twitter sitter' consent decree appeal to US Supreme Court

Elon Musk's lawyers are again trying to get the world's richest man out of his "Twitter sitter" consent decree with the US Securities and Exchange Commission via an appeal to the US Supreme Court. Filed yesterday [PDF], Musk's legal team repeats the same general argument it has made since Musk and the SEC signed an agreement …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Providing they're sure he'll pay them they'll keep submitting the cases. Why not? Money for old rope - that's the rope he tied himself up with to settle with the SEC in the first place. Perhaps the SEC should offer to set aside the agreement in return for whatever sanctions they'd have handed out instead.

    1. Lurko

      I suggest the SEC are more creative. Release him from the consent decree, but only so long as he has "I am a pillock" branded on this forehead with red hot iron, and without anaesthetic.

      In reversed lettering, of course, because everybody else already knows it.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        How about the SEC just proposes that he can say whatever he wants, but his Xitter handle has to be made so that he's the only one who can view his Xcretions. Every single Xcresion he's ever made since the beginning of time goes poof from everyone else's view. After all, there's nothing in the first amendment that says anyone else has to listen to/read/be aware of, your speech, just that the government can't stop you from saying it. Requiring you to shout into the void does not violate the first amendment in any way.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Lurko

          "there's nothing in the first amendment that says anyone else has to listen to/read/be aware of, your speech, just that the government can't stop you from saying it. Requiring you to shout into the void does not violate the first amendment in any way."

          Good thinking! Get him into space, and put him on the wrong side of an airlock, where he can certainly shout into the void.

          We'll have to make sure it's filmed so we can all enjoy it, again and again.

      2. b1k3rdude

        Would musk ox even know what a pillock is though...

        1. nautica Silver badge
          Happy

          'English' is such a rich language...

          Forget "pillock"; simply call hin a "little dick", from which the word is derived ("pill cock"). Fits him beautifully ("...to a 'T' ", as we say in the colonies); and Mush will immediately understand. Maybe...

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Naw, it should read "Poor Impulse Control". We'll be nice and not nickname him Raven.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      What's the problem?

      In the unlikely event the Supremes elect to hear the case, and if they find a prior restraint, what's the problem. Musk then gets to tweet whatever he wishes. And the SEC presumably is then free to whack him with appropriate fines if they judge his tweets to be attempts to manipulate the financial markets.

      Sounds to me like Elon is fighting tooth and nail for the opportunity to screw himself. Have I got this wrong somehow?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's the problem?

        The problem is the SEC exists to keep people from screwing OTHER people, not themselves. I he tanks Tesla stock, it hurt a bunch of shareholders.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: What's the problem?

          That's why they fine him. I suppose they could also require him to compensate the other shareholders who lost out. In order to do that he might have to sell some shares. That would drive the price down, so he'd have to dig out more compensations so he'd....

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: What's the problem?

            The SEC regulates public companies: it sets the rules and listed companies agree to abide by them. Musk broke the rules and agreed to the deal in lieu of a court case – as most companies to to avoid further liability cases. Courts have thus far upheld the decision because Musk entered the agreement voluntarily.

            In summary, this looks more like childish thirst for vengeance than a credible legal strategy. Indeed, continuing to pursue it could lead to action from shareholders concerned that the repuational damage is affecting their assets.

            1. zuckzuckgo

              All the free speech you can afford

              He was OK with the concept of taking down tweets when it included information on his private planes flight plans. You just have to be able to afford the ransom.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: What's the problem?

              "Courts have thus far upheld the decision because Musk entered the agreement voluntarily."

              He promptly violated that restriction and stated so publicly that he had little intention of running his tweets past the blood sucking lawyers.

            3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: What's the problem?

              "Musk broke the rules and agreed to the deal in lieu of a court case – as most companies to to avoid further liability cases."

              Which goes back to my original point. Allow him to rescind the agreement if he wants to and let the case go back to the original court. His choice - keep the trap shut or take the consequences of not doing so.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: What's the problem?

          "I he tanks Tesla stock, it hurt a bunch of shareholders."

          It could also affect hoards of Tesla EV owners as those cars are massively dependent on the mothership for many of their functions if the company goes out of business or even has to suspend operations for a short time while professional management is brought in.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What's the problem?

            "It could also affect hoards of Tesla EV owners as those cars are massively dependent on the mothership for many of their functions if the company goes out of business or even has to suspend operations for a short time while professional management is brought in."

            Possibly, but I guess Tesla are not going to go out of business any time soon, and whilst long term they'll be borged into a car maker who know what they're doing, that's a few years off yet. I also doubt that Tesla Corporation would have to suspend operation if the Chief Pillock gets ousted. At a strategic decision level, yes there would be a delay between Musk being shown the door and the new regime taking over, but that's unlikely to affect day to day ops.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: What's the problem?

              "At a strategic decision level, yes there would be a delay between Musk being shown the door and the new regime taking over, but that's unlikely to affect day to day ops."

              One of the concerns of major investors is that Tesla does not have a succession plan for its executive positions including the CEO. Elon has already removed many of the positions found in normal corporations such as media relations and taken them upon himself. This is why there are no responses to media inquiries. He even fired his secretary that had been with him for a bunch of years when she asked for a rise claiming he could do all of the tasks she was doing for him. It will mean that if Elon is abruptly replaced/dismissed, a new team will have a job getting their feet under them as the existing structure is non-standard. I don't believe that Tesla vehicles would suddenly brick themselves, but there could be issues with contracts for mapping data, details regarding charging stations that require C-level sign-offs and other things that could suffer.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: What's the problem?

        "And the SEC presumably is then free to whack him with appropriate fines if they judge his tweets to be attempts to manipulate the financial markets."

        It should also prohibit the SEC from making deals prior to a full court hearing the next time MuskyMan is put up on charges.

  2. nautica Silver badge
    FAIL

    A trifle; or "...a mere bag of shells", as Inspector Clouseau would say.

    "...but surely, your Honors, you don't expect me to now keep my word about agreeing to something to which I've already agreed. Earlier. And in writing."

  3. arctic_haze

    Same old story

    Elon Musk, time after time, shows how much he believes he should be above law. This is not possible on this planet which may explain why he is so keen to migrate to Mars.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Same old story

      The most unfortunate part of that whole Mars pipe dream is that he doesn't want to go personally

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same old story

      X is the new Union Aerospace Corporation.

  4. aerogems Silver badge

    To Paraphrase Gorge Carlin

    "Fuck Xitler! Fuck 'em in the asshole with a big rubber dick! Then break it off and beat him with the rest of it! I hope Xitler dies! I do! I hope he goddamn dies! I hope he dies lonely and forgotten behind the baseboard of a soiled bathroom, with his hand in Theil's pants... No wonder no one in the world takes us seriously, we waste valuable article space talking about the ravings of a deluded idiot!"

    He's not being required to do anything that every other CEO of a publicly traded company doesn't have to do. So, as far as I'm concerned, if not committing securities fraud is so onerous for him, he should resign immediately as CEO of Tesla and any other officer position he may hold at any other publicly traded company. Then he is free to say whatever he wants, because he won't be able to affect policy at the company any longer. By remaining as the CEO of a publicly traded company he is expected to not say or do things that could roil the market in some way. So, what will his tiny dick energy ego decide is more important I wonder. His money or his "freedumb".

  5. nightflier

    Freedom of speech

    If he is let out of this legally binding agreement, the same thing should apply to those that he made sign NDAs. Let them all speak freely.

    1. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: Freedom of speech

      But you forget, rich people like Xitler are not subject to the laws of mere mortals like us.

      1. Bebu Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Freedom of speech

        "But you forget, rich people like Xitler are not subject to the laws of mere mortals like us."

        As Terry Pratchett's incensed Vine put it - these privileged folk were subject only to their own "private law" (privi + lege.)

        Not sure of the good commander's etymology but reads well.

        Without a doubt the US has one of the best legal systems that money can buy. So it wouldn't surprise me if he were to get his own way in this matter. As for his going to Mars since he is the greatest telephone sanitizer of all time he should be given a golden first class ticket (gratis.)

        1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

          Re: Freedom of speech

          In order for the Supremes to take him up, the appellate courts (and he's already up to the Circuit Courts here) would have had to have erred in law in their decision making.

          Whatever they might decide for him would become precedent for every other person who settles litigation with the government in future - and become grounds for appeal for everyone who has to date.

          It will be a lawyers' paradise if he wins, not because of his Muskiness' privilege, but because if a decision applies to him, everyone else can ask for the same treatment.

          But seriously, his argument is "You remember back when I was found to be unethical in my communications as a company director and was about to be booted out of my really lucrative directorships? So they would let me keep directing companies, I told the SEC that I wouldn't do it again. I should be allowed to do it again, because it's my right. Oh, and I had my fingers crossed behind my back, so it doesn't count. Nyeah, nyeah!"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Marketing

            The irony here is that if someone hired Elon Musk for marketing reasons to say their competitor is overvalued or undervalued, that wouldn’t be considered market manipulation, yet because of the cult of personality surrounding him, it would have a similar manipulative effect. Just look at what is happening with Disney right now in response to what he said as a reference point.

            One day, people will see the stock market the way they’re beginning to see so-called “democratic” politics… just a glorified pantomime to keep us entertained and pacified while our masters slowly rob us of everything.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Freedom of speech

      "If he is let out of this legally binding agreement, the same thing should apply to those that he made sign NDAs. Let them all speak freely."

      There a bit of a conundrum in that. He claims to be a "free speech absolutist", buy Twitter to make sure there is an unfettered platform and then requires the remaining employees to sign a strict NDA. He goes on to threaten them all with swift and severe punishment, on Twitter, should they violate that agreement. Hmmmmmm. One for me, another for thee.

  6. t245t Silver badge
    Holmes

    SEC suing Musk for not buying Twitter and subsequently buying Twitter /s

    SEC sues to force Elon Musk to testify in Twitter probe

    • The SEC is suing Elon Musk, claiming the owner of X didn't comply with a subpoena to testify.

    • "Musk failed to appear for testimony on September 15, 2023,” the SEC said in a lawsuit on Thursday.

    • The case is tied to Musk's purchase of Twitter last year and the stock trading surrounding the acquisition.

    “The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Elon Musk on Thursday in an effort to compel the billionaire to testify over his purchase of Twitter last year.”

    --

    In 2018 Musk got into trouble for falsely tweeting that he was taking his company private, which caused stocks to soar.

    --

    Since Musk subsequently bought Twitter, shouldn't the consent decree be now declared null and void?

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: SEC suing Musk for different pieces of securities fraud

      Musk Tweeted "Thinking of taking Tesla private. Funding secured." Musk has never been able to show evidence of secured funding. He agreed to adult supervision on Twitter to avoid being sued by the SEC. He was sued by Tesla shareholders in California. The judge ruled that "funding secured" was a lie. The jury found him guilty of securities fraud but set the damages to zero.

      Musk started his Twitter purchase in secret. That was fine up to a point. At the point where his shares gave him considerable voting control of Twitter he was legally required to make an SEC filing announcing his purchase. This is so other shareholders could respond to the potential benefit/threat of Musk having some control of Twitter. Musk has been avoiding answering questions on this separate piece of securities fraud for months.

      Of his own accord Musk had a seller friendly unbreakable purchase agreement drafted for Twitter. After signing it he realized he had made a colossal mistake and (foolishly) started to trash talk Twitter. (The way out of the purchase would have been to talk up Twitter's value beyond his offer so shareholders would vote against the sale.) Twitter was making a small profit before Musk took over and turned it around.

      I do not know how Musk got away with Solar City or using Tesla resources for Twitter. I think lack of consequences for past actions have lead him to believe he can get away with anything, hence his recent "funding secured" SEC filing for xAI.

      Normally giving all of Twitter's data to a separate company would be a problem. I actually see a benefit to X's creditors. This is further evidence that Twitter is not a separate company but is instead an extension of Musk's personal wealth. When Twitter goes bankrupt creditors can use xAI's source of training data to pierce the corporate veil and recover their debts from Musk's SpaceX shares instead of the desiccated corpse of Twitter.

      1. t245t Silver badge

        Re: SEC suing Musk for different pieces of securities fraud

        Jim Jordan Grills Top DOJ Official Kristen Clarke About Lawsuit Against Elon Musk's SpaceX

        Yea, it sure sounds like a disinterested application of the law /s

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Jim Jordan...

          Ah yes... that same Gym Jordan who has ignored a congressional subpoena for over 500 days.

          Anyone appearing in front of him should make sure that, that fact is in the record. It will not only make him and the other bully Comer look like idiots (not hard) but it will become public record.

          That's why Hunter Biden got them so angry. By offering to appear in public for testimony (and taking Comer up on that very offer that he made several times on Pox Spews) those bullies can't go on Pox and take his comments out of context for their own political game of trying to take down the current POTUS.

          US law is a mess of its own making.

          1. t245t Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Jim Jordan...

            A nice execution of a side-ways shuffle there ;)

            - quote -

            Ah yes... that same Gym Jordan who has ignored a congressional subpoena for over 500 days.

            Anyone appearing in front of him should make sure that, that fact is in the record. It will not only make him and the other bully Comer look like idiots (not hard) but it will become public record.

            That's why Hunter Biden got them so angry. By offering to appear in public for testimony (and taking Comer up on that very offer that he made several times on Pox Spews) those bullies can't go on Pox and take his comments out of context for their own political game of trying to take down the current POTUS.

            US law is a mess of its own making.

            - unquote -

      2. OhForF' Silver badge

        Re: SEC suing Musk for different pieces of securities fraud

        Elon Musk as an expierienced and successful business man should know that he has to keep any agreemnts he signs. I don't get why he keeps signing contracts that contain clauses he doesn't like. Even i know it is much easier not to sign a contract than to get a court to declare it void later.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: SEC suing Musk for different pieces of securities fraud

          Elon Musk as an expierienced and successful business man

          I suppose it's a more plausible movie pitch than Snakes on a Plane.

          1. Cruachan

            Re: SEC suing Musk for different pieces of securities fraud

            It's safe to say at this point that Elon has indeed had it with these motherfucking lawyers approving his motherfucking tweets.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: SEC suing Musk for different pieces of securities fraud

        " After signing it he realized he had made a colossal mistake and (foolishly) started to trash talk Twitter. "

        The funny thing is that the contract included a non-disparagement clause that Elon started violating almost immediately.

        Elon could have bought Twitter for much less just by investing in stock until he had voting control. He was offered a seat on the board at one point that he turned down when that would have given him access to all sorts of private information on bots, shadow accounts, back room government deals, etc. After he was forced to make good on the purchase, he could have spent some time analyzing the company before going through staff with a scythe to see where it was most prudent to make cuts, changes and additions. He's never given any sort of appearance of having a thought out plan for Twitter. He just tries things and most often has to backtrack a day or two later when there's a big push back.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: Elon could have bought Twitter for much less

          You completely misunderstand his motiviation. He hated having people point out what a dick he was on Twitter. That happens much less now and is drowned out by the millions of his minions praising his every word.

          There was no plan beyond this, this is the outcome he wanted. To be a bigot on twitter and hear his bigotry echo back loudly.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SEC suing Musk for not buying Twitter and subsequently buying Twitter /s

      Since you seem to struggle with comprehension, I'll help you find and understand the answer to your question.

      Is Musk involved with any other companies?

      Does he hold a position of influence (i.e. C-level status) with them

      Are any of them public companies?

      It doesn't matter whether he now owns Twitter or not, he's still very much in a position where his verbal incontinence can unfairly impact the value of holdings of people that he has a duty to.

      It must be quite dispiriting leaping to the defend the acts of an arse who doesn't even know you exist, no?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All a pig needs is some dirt and some moisture

    The wallow will develop in no time.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm just here to say something mean about Elon

    Elon Musk is a poo-poo head.

    Watch the Musk fanboi downvote this post like every other on the thread that doesn't praise Musk's testicles!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trump and Musk are the clearest evidence yet ..

    .. that the bar to declare someone a vexatious litigant has been set *WAY* too high.

    But hey, it's the US where people can screw over an entire nation if they have enough money.

    And they did.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. s. pam Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Something smells a bit, ah, Musky

    The stench of despair surrounding Muskyboy never ceases to end. On one hand he demands the right to free speech to abuse, troll and inflame millions is his god-given birthright. On the other hand having inflicted billions of losses to investors he mistakenly asserts he should have the same rights without checks even though he willingly agreed to said checks.

    I smell a Wumpus - turn, move or shoot?

    1. Cruachan

      Re: Something smells a bit, ah, Musky

      He's a self proclaimed free speech absolutist, which I've always interpreted he means as absolutely no one but him is allowed to say what they want

  11. trevorde Silver badge

    Simpler solution

    Run Xitter into the ground, bankrupt it and wind up the company. No Xitter, no order - problem solved.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Simpler solution

      AIUI this is only indirectly about X. It goes back to him making comments that affected Tesla's share price. Twitter then, X now was only the conduit, if it were run into the ground he'd still shoot his mouth off elsewhere if the decree were lifted.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Simpler solution

      "Run Xitter into the ground, bankrupt it and wind up the company."

      I don't think the company will be wound up. There is sufficient outside investment that a BK judge would allow the creditors to install an interim management team to replace Elon and what's-her-name to preserve the value of what remains. The big question is how much the new managers would be allowed to do and the magnitude to which they can do them.

  12. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Elon Quote

    "I think at this point I know more about the inside of courtrooms than anybody else alive"

    I might have it completely right, but that's the gist of it.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Elon Quote

      oops

      I might NOT have the quote completely right. The 10 minute rule is too short.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone actually think Xitter will survive as a serious player?

    The Norwegian Blue comes to mind.

  14. DS999 Silver badge

    Musk always seems to be trying to get out of previous agreements

    He spent a lot of time trying to get out of buying Twitter, until all his legal avenues to extricate himself from an agreement he freely entered into failed to give him a way out.

    Now he's trying to get out of an agreement he signed, saying it is "prior restraint" on his free speech. Well boo hoo you agreed to it, and no one forced you to do so. You did because the alternative was the SEC possibly enforcing financial penalties on him or even forcing his removal as Tesla's CEO. As it is only an agreement, he is free to break that agreement at any time, but then the SEC will no longer be bound by their side of the agreement where they take no further actions against him.

    He wants to have his cake and eat it too - get out of the agreement on his end, but have the SEC still bound by their end. That's not how any of this works, Muskrat!

  15. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Please let him say whatever he wants on Twatter. It's the best and fastest way to get rid of it once for all.

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