Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Legal News for Mon 3/25 - Trump Needs to Borrow $454m Real Quick, TikTok Free Speech Arguments, Terraform Labs' SEC Trial

Legal News for Mon 3/25 - Trump Needs to Borrow $454m Real Quick, TikTok Free Speech Arguments, Terraform Labs' SEC Trial

Trump's race against time to pay a $454M judgment or face NY property seizure, TikTok's free speech defense against a US ban, and Terraform Labs' SEC trial after a $40B crypto collapse.
Donald Trump counting nickels, pencil sketch.

This Day in Legal History: Britain Outlaws the Slave Trade

On March 25, 1807, a pivotal moment in legal history occurred with the passage of a British bill that effectively abolished the transatlantic slave trade. This landmark legislation, known as the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, marked a significant victory for the abolitionist movement, which had long campaigned against the inhumane practice of trafficking enslaved individuals. Spearheaded by figures such as William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson, the act reflected growing societal awareness of the moral and ethical implications of slavery. Despite resistance from vested interests and economic concerns, the abolitionist movement succeeded in securing the passage of this transformative law, which prohibited British subjects from participating in the buying or selling of enslaved people. The enactment of the Abolition Act not only set a precedent for international efforts to combat slavery but also fueled momentum for broader emancipation movements worldwide. However, it's crucial to note that while the act abolished the trade in slaves, it did not immediately abolish slavery itself within the British Empire. Nonetheless, this pivotal legislation laid the groundwork for subsequent legal reforms aimed at eradicating the institution of slavery altogether. The passage of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act stands as a testament to the power of legal action in advancing social justice and human rights, leaving an indelible mark on legal history and shaping the trajectory of abolitionist movements for generations to come. However it also reflects the half-measures and overall slow pace of change in expanding human rights that plagued the 19th century in a way that resonates to this day. 

Donald Trump faces a pressing deadline, with just hours remaining to cover a staggering $454 million civil fraud judgment, or risk the seizure of some of his prime properties in New York. The judgment, issued by Justice Arthur Engoron on February 16, accuses Trump of manipulating his net worth and property values to deceive lenders and insurers. Despite Trump's vocal denials and claims of innocence, the judgment poses a significant threat to his public image as a successful businessman, particularly as he seeks to secure the presidency once more. The looming financial challenges extend beyond this case, with Trump's campaign fundraising lagging behind his political rival's. The potential seizure targets iconic Trump properties such as Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street, as well as assets in Westchester County, including a golf course and a sprawling estate. Trump's legal team faces hurdles in securing a bond to cover the judgment, with 30 surety companies reportedly rejecting their requests. Meanwhile, Trump's financial woes are compounded by other legal battles, including criminal charges and defamation lawsuits. Despite recent developments, such as investor approval for a $5.7 billion deal involving his Truth Social platform, uncertainties remain regarding Trump's ability to meet his financial obligations. The civil fraud case, along with other legal challenges, continues to strain Trump's finances and raise questions about his future prospects.

Trump has hours to cover $454 million judgment or risk property seizure | Reuters

If Congress compels ByteDance Ltd. to sell TikTok Inc. under threat of a US ban, the social media giant is likely to invoke First Amendment arguments, mirroring successful defenses in Montana. This potential lawsuit would confront free speech concerns against federal authority to restrict a foreign-owned platform used by over 150 million Americans. TikTok, armed with strong legal arguments, asserts its right to operate a speech-hosting platform, with users similarly contending that a ban infringes on their expression rights. A recent federal court ruling in Montana, blocking a state ban on TikTok, underscores the First Amendment challenges such legislation faces. Despite bipartisan support in the House, the bill mandating divestiture faces Senate uncertainty. While President Biden is inclined to sign, TikTok intends to exhaust legal options before considering divestiture. The debate highlights the clash between national security concerns and free speech rights, with lawmakers emphasizing China's potential data access and influence through TikTok. However, First Amendment experts argue that even legitimate national security concerns must withstand free speech scrutiny. Past legal precedents, including cases involving foreign ownership and speech restrictions, inform the ongoing debate over TikTok's fate.

TikTok Free Speech Rights Offer a Bulwark Against a Forced Sale

Terraform Labs and its founder, Do Kwon, are embroiled in a legal battle in Manhattan, facing charges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for allegedly deceiving investors prior to the 2022 collapse of two cryptocurrencies. The SEC accuses them of misrepresenting the stability of TerraUSD and making unfounded claims about the use of Terraform's blockchain in a mobile payment app in Korea. Kwon, who is the brain behind TerraUSD and Luna, is under arrest in Montenegro, pending extradition to South Korea, following the $40 billion debacle caused when TerraUSD lost its peg to the dollar. The SEC's lawsuit further alleges that Kwon and Terraform Labs manipulated TerraUSD's price through third-party purchases to falsely showcase the algorithm's effectiveness. Despite these serious allegations, Kwon and his company refute any misconduct, claiming their statements have been misinterpreted by the SEC. A partial victory for the SEC came in December when Judge Jed Rakoff ruled in its favor, albeit dismissing some charges related to security-based swaps. The determination of damages against Terraform, which declared bankruptcy in January, remains pending, with the potential to exceed the company's current assets.

Terraform Labs' civil fraud trial set to begin in New York | Reuters

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at