Attorney General Morrisey: SEC Disclosure Initiative is Unneeded, Unconstitutional

Charleston  — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey led a 16-state coalition in pushing back against a Biden administration initiative that would require companies to make policy statements not related to financial performance, a move that he argues would serve a political agenda while decimating freedom of speech.

 
In comments filed late Monday to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, the Attorney General expressed concerns that the proposed climate change disclosures are unnecessary from a market protection standpoint, particularly as the market is already responding to investors’ interest in such topics in other forums.
 
“The Commission has an important and difficult mandate with respect to safeguarding public trading, but it is hard to see how it can legally, constitutionally, and reasonably assume a leading role when it comes to climate change,”  Morrisey said in a press release. “The status quo’s voluntary approach may fail to satisfy the desires of at least some socially conscious, would-be investors, but companies are well positioned to decide whether and how to satisfy the market’s evolving demands, for both customers and investors.”
 
Morrisey contends that responding to a supposed public demand for information about public companies’ climate measures is not a sufficient government interest to compel speech and is a violation of the First Amendment.
 
To pass constitutional muster, speech regulation must advance a constitutionally sufficient government interest, must be adequately related to advancing that end and may be required to use the least restrictive means, the comments read.
 
This is the second time Morrisey expressed his concerns to the SEC. In late March, the Attorney General wrote to SEC Acting Chairwoman Allison Lee detailing similar concerns with the disclosure initiative.
 
The West Virginia-led comments were joined by the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming.
 
Read the coalition’s filed comments at https://bit.ly/3cIZa6R.