Musk is currently asking a federal judge to revoke a so-called consent decree imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission that requires him to seek legal approval before he tweets about Tesla. He’s argued the order violates his First Amendment rights by “chilling” his free speech.
In a new filing on Tuesday, attorneys for Musk tried to argue that point by quoting from Eminem’s 2002 “Without Me,” specifically the rapper’s lyric “The FCC won’t let me be or let me be me so let me see/ They tried to shut me down.”
The line from the song is a reference to a 2002 case in which the Federal Communications Commission fined a radio station for playing Eminem’s music – a fine that was later lifted out of deference to the First Amendment. In his quoted version, Musk subbed in “SEC” for “FCC” in Eminem’s lyric.
“The First Amendment requires that agencies proceed with caution when constitutional rights are at stake, not seek to pursue any and all novel theories that broaden their authority at the cost of individual freedom,” wrote Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro.
Tuesday’s filing even listed “Eminem, ‘Without Me’ (2002)” under the “authorities” section of the brief, which typically contains case names and the courts that issued them. A spokesperson for the SEC did not immediately return a request for comment.
The SEC sued Musk for securities fraud in 2018 over statements he made on Twitter about potentially taking Tesla private, claiming the tweets had caused stock prices to spike by misleading investors into thinking such a deal was actually in the works. He quickly agreed to the consent decree, but has since argued that he felt “forced” to sign the deal because he was worried the lawsuit would “jeopardize the company’s financing.”
In 2021, after Musk tweeted that he might sell 10 percent of his Tesla stock, the SEC demanded to know whether he had sought legal approval for the statements, as required by the consent decree. Musk responded by seeking to overturn the decree entirely.
“Over the course of the past four years, the Commission has doubled down on its prior attempts to control Mr. Musk’s speech,” his lawyers wrote earlier this month. “It has done so without any ostensible regard for core First Amendment rights, amidst heavy–handed investigation that seems destined, and perhaps calculated, to chill exercise of those rights.”