Mar 2, 2022 • 7M

🗞️ Musk In Trouble, EPA Loses Out, & SCOTUS Swap

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This Week: The SEC is again investigating the Musk clan, the EPA may lose a powerful regulating tool, and Biden makes a historic SCOTUS nomination. Plus, the dangers of VR, office closures in Kyiv, and the case against the Trump Organization.

📉 A Musk Of Wrongdoing 

The Securities and Exchange Commission is once again looking at a member of the Musk clan for a potentially illegal stock sale. Kimbal Musk, Elon's brother and a board member of Tesla, sold $108 million worth of the electric carmaker's stock a day before Elon made a tweet that sent share prices tumbling. The SEC is now investigating if Kimbal Musk violated insider trading rules. 

  • “Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock. Do you support this?” Elon Musk asked his nearly 63 million Twitter followers on November 6, 2021. By the end of the year, Musk sold nearly 10%. 

  • According to The Verge, a company's employees can avoid insider trading violations by using the program 10b5-1 to trade at predetermined times. However, Kimbal Musk did not seem to follow this program at the time of his November 5, 2021 trade.

Multiple Investigations

This is not the first time Elon Musk has found himself or a member of his family under investigation by the SEC. Most notably, the Tesla CEO was charged with civil securities fraud in 2018 after he tweeted that he was considering taking the company private and claimed that funding was secured. The share price tumbled as a result, and Musk ultimately settled the case with the SEC in 2019, says CNBC.

The Verdict

How many times can the world's richest person manipulate his company's stock price via Twitter and continue to claim that he is the victim of ​​“unrelenting investigation?” The precedence is being set here that a very wealthy CEO can simply avoid SEC violations to no consequence.

⛈️ Regulating The Regulators

The US Supreme Court is poised to rule that the EPA has no authority to regulate carbon emissions. In the case before it, West Virginia v. EPA, the state of West Virginia is effectively asking the high court to block any future rules issued by the federal agency to regulate carbon emissions.

  • The case dates back to 2009, when then President Obama began using the executive office to implement nationwide rules tackling climate change. As NPR states, the EPA was tasked with regulating carbon emissions from the single largest source: power plants. However, 16 states, including West Virginia fought back against that.

  • “I think this is really about a fundamental question of who decides the major issues of the day,” Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia's Attorney General said in a press conference earlier this month, notes CNN. “Should it be unelected bureaucrats, or should it be the people's representatives in Congress? That's what this case is all about.”

The UN Report

The case is being heard and decided as the UN has released a new report stating that billions of people around the globe are facing increasingly severe impacts from climate change. The report is “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership,” said António Guterres, the UN secretary general, according to the New York Times. “With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change.”

The Verdict

If the Supreme Court guts the EPA's ability to effectively regulate the environment and fight climate change, the federal government may be left with no other tools to combat climate change now. Furthermore, should the SCOTUS decide that the EPA has overstepped its authority, the ruling may spread and limit the authority of other federal agencies.

⚖️ A Historic Nomination

Ketanji Brown Jackson has been nominated by President Joe Biden to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Should Jackson be confirmed, it would be a historic moment as she would be the first black woman to serve on the court. 

  • “For too long our government, our courts, haven’t looked like America,” President Biden said during his official nomination of Jackson. “I believe it is time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation.”

  • Jackson was confirmed last year to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit with bipartisan support—a fact that may prove beneficial to her SCOTUS confirmation. 

  • Before serving on the US Court of Appeals, Jackson was appointed to the US District Court in DC by President Obama, and clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer from 1999 to 2000. 

Bipartisan Support

Jackson is related through marriage to former Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. During her 2012 confirmation hearing, Ryan stated that “our politics may differ, but my praise for Ketanji’s intellect, for her character, for her integrity, it is unequivocal,” reports the New York Times. He further called her "an amazing person” and “clearly qualified.” While Paul Ryan is no longer a sitting Congressperson, Jackson's ability to curry support from both sides of the aisle has not dimmed.

The Verdict

Since Jackson is replacing a fellow liberal justice, her confirmation hopefully won't hit too many roadblocks. That being said, her potential appointment would be a truly historical moment for the legal community and the nation.

📤 What Else We're Forwarding

IRL Effects: Virtual Reality is having real-world consequences, says CNBC. Insurance claims for VR-related damage rose nearly a third in 2021 in the UK.

Ukrainian Freeze: Dentons, Baker McKenzie, and CMS have all closed their offices in Kyiv as a result of the ongoing war there, says ABA Journal. The Big Law firms will be aiding with the refugee crisis as a result of the war.

Resignations: Two prosecutors working on the Manhattan DA's tax fraud case against the Trump Organization resigned, notes the New York Times. Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz said they resigned because DA Alvin Bragg apparently said he had doubts about the case.

🎧 Music We’re Working To

This week, we’re listening to Olivia Belli, an Italian pianist and composer. Classically trained at conservatory, she was inspired by Mozart, Bach, and Chopin. In 2018, she released her debut album,Where Night Never Comes, and won ‘Best Modern Classical Album 2018’ by In 2021, she released Sol Novo, capturing both an LP of originals, and her 2017 collection of Philip Glass performances on solo piano. Described as “beautiful, nature inspired music to usher in a bright new dawn,” Olivia’s compositions both quiet and calm the mind.

Sol Novo - Olivia Belli (50m, no vocals)
Apple Music / Spotify / YouTube Music / Amazon Music

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✌🏽 Raad