Can The Richest Man In the World Be Bullied?

Apparently, the richest man in the world is not exempt from bullying.

At least that is how Tesla CEO Elon Musk interprets a Feb. 7 subpoena from the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) seeking information about Musk’s compliance with a 2018 settlement that requires Musk’s tweets on “material information about the company” be vetted by company lawyers prior to posting.

Musk clearly has irritated the SEC and, more generally, the Biden administration by controversial opinions that seem to have little, if any, relationship to TESLA.

Freedom Convoy

Musk has exercised what many would consider to be his First Amendment right to communicate with his 63 million followers on Twitter (twice as many as Pres. Biden).

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No Immunity For Officials Who Retaliated Against Police Capt’s Free Speech

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled that a trio of Wood County, TX, officials must answer charges they conspired to retaliate against a police captain because he exercised his First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 to deny qualified immunity to the defendants, local Judge Jeff Fletcher, Sheriff Tom Castloo and former District Attorney James Wheeler.

Quitman Police Department Captain Terry Bevill has charged the trio with conspiring to have him fired and arrested for agreeing to a lawyer’s request to sign an affidavit for a friend

Bevill signed the affidavit in his personal capacity to support a venue transfer for the criminal trial of former Wood County Jail Administrator David McGee. Bevill said McGee would not get a fair trial in the county for facilitating the escape of an inmate and tampering with government documents because of the close personal relationship between Castloo, Wheeler and Fletcher.

The affidavit described Belvill “[a]s a longtime resident and law enforcement officer” who was “familiar with the local players and political climate.”

Castloo, Wheeler and Fletcher subsequently demanded Quitman Mayor David Dobbs fire Bevill, allegedly threatening to refuse to take future cases and to deny support for the police department. After pressure from Dobbs, Police Chief Kelly Cole fired Belvill on the grounds he violated a policy that bars police from interfering with courts.

Meanwhile, McGee’s case was not transferred and a jury found him guilty.

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This Is Not The Legal Profession’s Finest Hour…

Superior Court Judge Craig A. Karsnitz

Here’s the latest from the bullying, virtue signaling, mostly Democratic, anti-President Donald J. Trump segment of the legal profession.

Superior Court Judge Craig A. Karsnitz of Baltimore ruled last week that former Trump adviser Carter Page could not be represented by his choice of legal counsel, L. Lin Wood, in a defamation case stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Judge Karsnitz said a couple of hyperbolic tweets by Wood in support of Trump’s claims of election fraud “no doubt” helped “incite” the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. It’s not clear how Judge Karsnitz knows this, let alone know it to a certainty. He did not point to any actual evidence that Wood’s impassioned (some would say inflammatory) tweets incited anything but backlash against Wood.

No Election Fraud?

Judge Karsnitz’ ruling bordered on breathless.

For one thing, he concluded there was no election fraud in Georgia and that Wood’s lawsuit to that effect was “without basis in law or fact.”

Georgia U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Batten’s ruled that Wood, who was only a party in the Georgia lawsuit, lacked standing to bring the case. Moreover, Batten’s ruling is being appealed.

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The Precipitous, Alarming Decline of Free Speech

Simon & Schuster (S&S) may have had the right to drop a book written by U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-MO, on essentially political grounds.

But the act of doing so conjures up unpleasant images of suppression of unpopular and political speech.

The move is even more alarming as social media giants this week exercised their awesome power to silence the voices of American conservatives, from GOP President Donald Trump to Gen. Michael Flynn, ostensibly because they pose a threat of violence. (It may be purely coincidental that Trump recently sought to remove the platforms’ legal protection from lawsuits.)

But it feels different when a publisher silences an author. Perhaps because publishers historically championed unpopular books and authors.

Ironically, Hawley’s book is entitled, The Tyranny of Big Tech.

Not The First Time

This isn’t the first time S&S has cancelled a book by a conservative author.

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Is Social Media Engaged In Censorship Or Civic Responsibility?

It quickly became apparent at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Tuesday that the perception of whether social media is actively engaged in censorship depends upon party affiliation.

U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-SC, and other GOP Senators blasted Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for engaging in selective censorship of Republican content on their platforms to benefit Democrats in the Presidential election campaign.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, took the opposite view. He insisted the social media platforms were not engaging in censorship at all but merely exercising “moral and civic responsibility” to limit misleading content. He said the platforms must do far more to “fact check to avoid amplifying misinformation” in the future.

The hearing was held to discuss potential changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which exempts social media platforms from legal liability for content published on their platforms.

More or Less?

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, noted the irony that Democrats, one-time champions of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech and a free press, are now demanding ever more censorship by social media platforms.

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