🗞️ Musk Hits Backspace On Twitter, Biden's Order on Abortion, & NY’s Concealed Carry Squabble
This week: Elon Musk closes the door on Twitter, President Biden throws his hat into the abortion-rights fight, and New York takes a novel approach to gun safety. Plus, Oklahoma's jailhouse lawyer, Japan doubles down on cyberbullying, and the Dutch get serious about working from home.
The months-long Musk/Twitter saga is officially entering a new phase. After the centi-billionaire terminated his deal to purchase the company late Friday with a 13D filing, Musk claimed that Twitter was in material breach of multiple provisions of the merger agreement, most notably that the social media platform misrepresented the number of bots and fake accounts among its users.
Musk initially signed a legally binding agreement in April to purchase Twitter at $54.20 a share, and waived due diligence in order to speed up the deal, reports the New York Times. Furthermore, “the terms included a $1 billion breakup fee if the agreement fell apart and a clause that gives Twitter the right to sue Mr. Musk and force him to complete or pay for the deal, so long as the debt financing he has corralled remains intact.”
And sue is exactly what Twitter plans to do. “The Twitter Board is committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk and plans to pursue legal action to enforce the merger agreement,” Bret Taylor, Twitter's chairman tweeted after Musk's 13D filing. “We are confident we will prevail in the Delaware Court of Chancery.”
It was evident from the get-go that Musk didn't have the $44 billion in liquid assets to purchase Twitter. Although the Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder is currently worth over $219 billion, most of that is tied up in Tesla shares. According to Reuters, Musk “initially took a $12.5-billion margin loan” against his Tesla shares to fund the purchase, but then cut it down to $6.25 billion as he brought on co-investors like Larry Ellison and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. It was around that same time that Musk began pushing the issue of bots and fake accounts on the social media platform as a way to potentially back out of the deal.
While it still remains unclear what Musk’s reasoning behind this whole Twitter deal ever was, we are definitely moving into a new (and expensive) new phase. Delaware is about to have a heavyweight rumble in its chancery court over this deal.
🎧 What We’re Listening To
This week, we’ll be listening to something brand new.
We’d like to welcome you to Not Billable. Weekly legal news updates. Full event replays. And, a chance to hear from industry leaders about what’s been going on behind the scenes. Hosted by none other than Matt Margolis himself.
Ep 1. Going Viral with Alex Su. T-3 days until release.
As the country continues to reconcile with the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade last month, pressure has mounted on President Biden to use his executive powers to help protect vulnerable women. On Friday, the President did just that and signed an executive order helping to protect reproductive rights around the country, however, the details remain vague.
Among the actions taken in the EO, the President ordered that “HHS will take additional action to protect and expand access to abortion care, including access to medication that the FDA approved as safe and effective over twenty years ago,” suggesting that medication abortions will remain for women under Medicare who live in states that now ban abortions.
Still, the EO leaves most details to be worked out by Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, who has stated that neither he nor the administration has a “magic bullet” to restore abortion access nationwide, reports the New York Times.
Biden did urge the public to vote in November as the most direct way to combat the overturning of Roe v. Wade. “For God’s sake, there’s an election in November. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote,” he said.
Though the Biden administration claims it has little power at this moment, others, like Senator Elizabeth Warren, are calling on Biden to step up. “There is much we can do at the federal level administratively, under current law,” the Democrat said, reports MSN. Specifically, Warren urged the White House to “explore just how much we can start using federal lands as a way to protect people who need access to abortions in all the states that either have banned abortions or are clearly on the threshold of doing so.” This action has been suggested by other Democratic leaders including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
It’s true that the Biden Administration really has its hands tied with how much it can do to mitigate the overturning of Roe. That said, Becerra will be the one to suss out the details of the administration’s actions over the weeks and months to come.
📮We’re Sending a Special Invite
To our legal freelancers flexing multiple engagements, we have an event for you! If that flexing leads to more stressing, we’re here to help. Join us Tuesday, July 26th, at 2 pm ET to chat with Bree Buchanan, Board President at the Institute for Well-Being in Law. As someone who’s been through it all — that is a 30-year career as a litigator, lobbyist, law professor, and lawyers assistance program director — she’s got a few tips on how to avoid burnout while staying at the top of your game.
New York state's concealed carry restriction may have been overturned by the Supreme Court last month, but Governor Kathy Hochul and state legislators are not done fighting for gun control measures. In the face of a spike in mass shootings this year, plus the repeated refrain that police enforcement missed countless warning signs, Albany will require New Yorkers applying for a concealed carry permit to hand over their social media accounts (active and inactive from the last 3 years) for review.
Applicants' social media accounts will be screened as part of a process to determine “the essential character, temperament, and judgment necessary to be entrusted with a weapon and to use it only in a manner that does not endanger oneself and others,” notes Engadget.
To no surprise, some law enforcement are already pushing back. As Peter Kehoe, executive director of the New York Sheriff's Association, told The Associated Press, the law infringes on Second Amendment rights, and enforcement is unlikely. “I don't think we would do that,” Kehoe added of the social media check. “I think it would be a constitutional invasion of privacy.”
In late June, by a vote of 6 to 3 in favor of the Conservative majority, the Supreme Court ruled that there is a constitutionally protected right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense. As a result, the high court struck down New York's century-old limits on who can carry a gun outside the home to people doing so for hunting and special needs. “This decision isn't just reckless, it's reprehensible,” Governor Hochul said, writes NPR. “Our states and our governors have a moral responsibility to do what we can because of what is going on: The insanity of the gun culture that has now possessed everyone all the way up to even to the Supreme Court.”
Does New York want to fight to restrict gun ownership? Yes. But in the face of last month’s SCOTUS ruling on the matter, this might not be the most sensible way to go about it.
📤 What Else We're Forwarding
Jailhouse Lawyer: Attorney Jay Silvernail has been disbarred by the Oklahoma Supreme Court after he continued to practice law post-conviction while sitting in jail awaiting sentencing, says Above The Law. The state's Supreme Court added that Silvernail “was more interested in cash flow than client care.”
Cyber Bullying: The Japanese Parliament has significantly increased the punishment for cyberbullying following the suicide of a popular reality TV star suffering from online harassment, reports MFAME. Beginning this summer, offenders can be punished with a year in jail and a fine of up to 300,000 Yen (or about $2,200).
Right At Home: Pending approval by the Dutch senate, employers in the country will now have to consider an employee's request to work from home so long as their job can be performed as such, says WION news. Approval of the bill will make the Netherlands one of the first countries in the world to enshrine working from home a right.
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