Elon Musk's Lawyer Warns Federal Judge's Gag Order Would Trample Constitutional Rights


Elon Musk’s lawyer says a federal judge would trample on the Tesla CEO’s free speech rights if he ordered Musk to stop talking about 2018 tweets saying he had the funding to make Tesla a private company.

In a court document filed Wednesday, lawyer Alex Spiro said a motion from a group of Tesla shareholders seeking a gag order doesn’t establish that Musk’s comments would prejudice the pool of jurors who might hear the case.

Lawyers for the shareholders have argued that Musk is trying to influence potential jurors before the lawsuit comes to trial on Jan. 17, 2023. They contend that the CEO’s August 2018 tweets were written to manipulate the stock price, costing shareholders money.

In court documents, the shareholders say U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco already has ruled that Musk’s statements about having the money to take Tesla private at $420 per share were false.

They also argue that Musk violated an October 2018 court settlement with U.S. securities regulators. He signed the agreement to pay a $20 million fine and not make any statements denying securities fraud allegations.

Elon Musk Warns Taylor Swift as Singer Takes Shot at 'Chads, Brads and Dads'

Musk is challenging the agreement, saying it is unconstitutional.

Spiro’s response comes about a week after Musk, the world’s richest person, made an offer to take over Twitter and turn it into a private company with a $43 billion offer that equals $54.20 per share. A free speech proponent, he made it clear he wanted less censorship on the platform.

“Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it,” Musk declared.

The social media giant’s board on Friday adopted a “poison pill” strategy that would make it prohibitively expensive for Musk to buy the shares.

Do you agree with Musk's attorney?

At issue in the lawsuit is Musk’s April 14 interview at the TED 2022 conference, where he said he had funding secured to take Tesla private in 2018.

He said he only settled the case because bankers told him they would stop providing capital if he didn’t, and the Austin, Texas-based Tesla would have gone bankrupt.

Lawyers for the shareholders say Musk’s comments in the interview were an “unsubtle attempt to absolve himself in the court of public opinion” over misrepresentations made with his Aug. 7, 2018 tweets.

Patrick Mahomes Throws Tantrum on Sideline as Chiefs Lose Second Straight Game

But Spiro wrote in his response that the shareholders didn’t show that Musk’s speech presented a “clear and discernable danger” that the whole community would be corrupted by pretrial publicity, or that finding 12 objective jurors would be impossible.

Musk’s comments merely reiterated the case that’s already on the public record in his challenge to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission settlement, Spiro wrote.

His motion noted that Musk is in the middle of a public offer to take over Twitter, which has led to a debate over censorship on social media.

Reporters, Spiro wrote, have compared this to Musk’s previous statements about taking Tesla private.

During the TED interview, Musk was asked if funding was secured for the Twitter deal, a reference to the 2018 Tesla tweets.

“Mr. Musk should be permitted to respond meaningfully and truthfully to inquiries such as this, and not be compelled to remain silent,” Spiro wrote.

If Musk violated the SEC agreement, the agency can ask a judge to scrap it and restore the securities fraud complaint.

The SEC declined to comment.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , , , , , , , , ,
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands. Photo credit: @AP on Twitter
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
New York City