On this day in history, July 14 1798, Congress passed the Sedition Act.
The Sedition Act of 1798 was a controversial law that criminalized the propagation of false or defamatory statements against the federal government. It was primarily deployed as a tool by the Adams administration to control dissenting speech, especially from the Jeffersonian press that took issue with the ideologies of the Federalist Party. Interestingly, the Act did not cover criticism aimed at the Vice President, a position held by Thomas Jefferson at the time, due to his adversarial stance against the Federalist-dominant Congress. In 1800, the Sedition Act was deliberately left to lapse, marking its end. The introduction and enforcement of this Act is believed to have played a significant role in Thomas Jefferson's victory in the presidential election the same year, as public sentiment turned against the suppression of free speech.
A ruling by U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres found that Ripple Labs Inc.'s token, XRP, constitutes a security when sold to institutional investors, but not when sold to the general public. Judge Torres reasoned that sophisticated investors would perceive XRP as a speculative investment with potential for returns, aligning it with the definition of an investment contract under federal securities law. This did not hold for the broader public purchasing on crypto exchanges, given the lack of evidence that such investors would fully comprehend Ripple's numerous statements about XRP. The decision, viewed as a win for the crypto industry, sent XRP's value soaring and sparked a wider debate on the classification of cryptocurrencies as securities. However, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) maintains that XRP tokens were sold as investment contracts in violation of securities laws. The impact of this ruling could significantly limit the SEC's jurisdiction, particularly if adopted by other courts. Despite the mixed verdict, the SEC's case against Ripple on institutional-sales claims will continue.
Walt Disney Co is seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District as part of its ongoing conflict with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The lawsuit aims to nullify deals the district alleges were illegally made in favor of Disney with a previous district board. Meanwhile, Disney has its own lawsuit against Governor DeSantis, accusing him of leveraging state government against the company in response to its opposition to a Florida law prohibiting classroom discussions of sexuality and gender identity with younger children. In retaliation, DeSantis influenced the passage of bills that restructured the district, transferring board control to the governor and retroactively invalidating agreements Disney had made with the previous board. Disney argues the district's lawsuit should be dismissed since the company's agreements were already nullified by the state. This would enable Disney to concentrate on its federal case, which alleges DeSantis violated the company's right to free speech. The oversight district, however, wants its case to proceed, arguing that if the Disney agreements are invalidated, Disney's federal case claims will largely be undermined.
The IRS is intensifying its enforcement efforts against wealthy tax evaders, utilizing the funding provided in the Inflation Reduction Act, also known as the tax-and-climate law, according to Commissioner Danny Werfel. Recent actions include resolving around 175 tax delinquency cases for millionaires, yielding $38 million, and initiating measures against millionaires who do not file tax returns. The agency has also identified roughly 100 high-income individuals claiming benefits in Puerto Rico without satisfying certain criteria. Werfel emphasized that the IRS plans to use the funds to pursue delinquent millionaires more vigorously and to crack down on those employing abusive tax strategies. Furthermore, he outlined the agency's efforts to improve taxpayer services, including opening new taxpayer assistance centers and expanding online capabilities. Despite receiving $80 billion from the law, these funds might be cut to $60 billion due to a debt-limit agreement. Werfel warned against any further cuts, stating that they would impact the agency's enforcement and customer service abilities.
Twitter Inc has been accused of refusing to pay a minimum of $500 million in promised severance to thousands of employees laid off after Elon Musk acquired the company, according to a lawsuit filed by Courtney McMillian, the former head of Twitter's employee benefits programs. McMillian alleges that a severance plan created by Twitter in 2019 promised most workers two months of their base pay plus an additional week of pay for each full year of service if they were laid off. Senior employees were supposed to receive six months of base pay. However, McMillian asserts that Twitter only provided at most one month of severance pay to laid-off workers, with many not receiving anything. The lawsuit accuses Twitter and Musk of violating a federal law regulating employee benefit plans. In response to these claims, Twitter stated that it has paid ex-employees in full. The company is also facing other lawsuits relating to the layoffs, including allegations of targeting women and workers with disabilities.