Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Legal News for Weds 12/13 - Biden Impeachment Inquiry, Musk's Legal Battle with Investors, NY's Social Media API Bill, and Tesla's Autopilot Recall

Legal News for Weds 12/13 - Biden Impeachment Inquiry, Musk's Legal Battle with Investors, NY's Social Media API Bill, and Tesla's Autopilot Recall

In today’s episode we have a Biden impeachment inquiry, Musk's legal battle with investors, NY's social media blocking bill, and Tesla's Autopilot recall.

A Tesla flying through the air, pencil sketch.

This Day in Legal History: The Court of International Justice at The Hague is Established

On December 13, 1920, a sea change milestone in international law was marked as the League of Nations Assembly, convening in Geneva, ratified the statute establishing the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague. This historical event symbolized a global endeavor towards the pursuit of international justice and legal order.

The creation of the Permanent Court of International Justice was a response to the world's urgent need for a systematic approach to resolving international disputes. In the wake of the devastating First World War, there was a heightened desire among nations to prevent future conflicts through legal means rather than through military force. The League of Nations, an intergovernmental organization formed to maintain world peace, took the initiative to set up this court.

The statute of the court outlined its composition and competencies. It was designed to handle cases between states and provide advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by the League of Nations. The court comprised judges from various member countries, ensuring a diverse representation of legal traditions and systems.

This groundbreaking development in international law was not just a diplomatic achievement but also a legal one. It laid the foundation for the development of international law as we know it today. The court's decisions and advisory opinions played a pivotal role in shaping key principles of international law, influencing subsequent international legal frameworks.

The Permanent Court of International Justice operated until 1946, when it was replaced by the International Court of Justice after the establishment of the United Nations. The legacy of the court, however, remains profound. It demonstrated the feasibility and effectiveness of a permanent judicial body in resolving international disputes and interpreting international law.

The establishment of the Permanent Court of International Justice marked the beginning of a new era in international relations, where law and legal mechanisms began to take precedence over power politics in resolving disputes. This shift had a lasting impact on how nations interact and resolve conflicts, paving the way for a more orderly and legally driven international system.

December 13, 1920, thus stands as a landmark date in legal history, commemorating the collective aspiration of nations towards peace, justice, and the rule of law at an international level. The establishment of the Permanent Court of International Justice not only addressed the immediate need for a post-war legal order but also sowed the seeds for the contemporary international legal regime that continues to evolve and address global challenges.

On December 13, 2023, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives is poised to vote on formalizing an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden. This move, expected as early as Wednesday, is driven by allegations that Biden and his family, particularly his son Hunter Biden, improperly benefited from his actions while serving as vice president from 2009 to 2017. The inquiry closely scrutinizes Hunter Biden's business activities.

The White House has refuted these allegations, labeling the investigation as politically motivated, especially in the context of the upcoming 2024 presidential election. Former President Donald Trump, who has been impeached twice and acquitted both times, is seen as Biden's main rival in the election.

The House plans to proceed with the vote before their three-week holiday break, despite other pending legislative matters like border security, foreign aid, and government funding.

The House Oversight Committee subpoenaed Hunter Biden, 53, for a private testimony on November 8. Hunter Biden proposed a public testimony instead, but House Republicans insisted on a closed-door session first, threatening him with contempt of Congress if he did not comply.

Hunter Biden's legal troubles extend beyond this inquiry. He was charged in September for illegal drug use while purchasing a firearm, and recently, he was indicted by a grand jury for tax offenses.

His deposition is scheduled one day after the House Rules Committee's hearing on the resolution to authorize the inquiry. During this hearing, Democrats heavily criticized the inquiry, questioning its credibility and integrity. They argued that the inquiry was a distraction from the Republicans' failure to pass significant legislation.

US House Republicans ready vote to formalize Biden impeachment inquiry | Reuters

On December 12, a U.S. district court rejected Elon Musk's bid to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Twitter investors. These investors accused Musk of negatively impacting Twitter's stock price in the months preceding his acquisition of the company in October 2022. The lawsuit revolves around Musk's public statements during the acquisition process, particularly his tweet stating that the deal was "temporarily on hold."

The court, situated in the Northern District of California, decided to allow certain claims made by the investors to proceed. However, it did dismiss some portions of their claims. The specific details of the allowed claims and the dismissed ones were not detailed in the report.

Elon Musk, who led the $44 billion acquisition of Twitter and subsequently rebranded it as 'X', has not yet responded to this court decision through his legal representatives, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP.

This legal development marks a significant moment in the ongoing saga surrounding Musk's high-profile acquisition of Twitter, highlighting the complex legal challenges associated with such large-scale corporate transactions. The refusal to dismiss the case suggests that the court finds merit in some of the investors' allegations regarding Musk's conduct during the acquisition process.

US court denies Musk's request to dismiss investor suit on Twitter buyout | Reuters

New York legislators are set to consider a bill next year that would mandate social media platforms to provide free data to third-party apps designed to block hate speech. This legislation, if passed, would be the first in the U.S. to require social media companies to offer such data at no cost. The move follows the state's previous initiative to allow third-party access to digital information for repairing smart devices.

The proposal comes in response to the rise in online hate speech, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. Proponents argue that third-party apps are more effective at filtering out harmful content than social media platforms themselves, allowing users more control over their online experience.

The bill was introduced in response to platforms like X (formerly known as Twitter) and Reddit starting to charge for access to their Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which are essential for third-party apps to function. These charges have led to the shutdown of apps like Block Party and Apollo for Reddit, which were instrumental in combating online harassment and trolling.

Tracy Chou, founder of Block Party, emphasizes the need for third-party involvement in moderating content, as platforms themselves lack the incentive to fully address the issue. The bill, sponsored by state Senate Judiciary Chair Brad Hoylman-Sigal, aims to empower users to filter the content they see without infringing on others' freedom of speech.

Exemptions in the bill would apply to smaller social media companies with less than $100,000 in annual gross revenue and allow platforms to deny access in cases posing a security risk. The bill would take effect 180 days after being signed into law and is part of a broader legislative effort in New York focusing on online privacy and digital rights.

New York to Target Social Media Firms That Charge for Interface

Tesla Inc. has announced a recall of over 2 million vehicles due to issues with its Autopilot driver-assistance system, following findings by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA's investigation, which remains ongoing, concluded that Autopilot's measures to ensure driver engagement were insufficient. This recall is part of Tesla's efforts to address safety concerns and prevent misuse of the Autopilot system.

The company plans to deploy a software update to introduce additional controls and alerts, aiming to enhance safety measures. This recall has impacted Tesla's stock, with shares dropping by up to 1.6%.

This action represents the second recall this year related to Tesla's automated-driving technology, amidst increasing scrutiny after numerous crashes involving the system, some of which were fatal. Despite claims of nearing full autonomy by CEO Elon Musk, Tesla's Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta still require active driver supervision.

The FSD Beta suite, which offers higher-level functionality, was previously recalled in February after NHTSA concerns about its operation, including speed limit violations and failure to stop completely. NHTSA's involvement with Tesla's Autopilot dates back to a 2016 investigation following a fatal crash, though the system was initially cleared the following year. Currently, over 50 special crash investigations involving Tesla's Autopilot are underway, with increased activity under the Biden administration.

Additionally, Tesla faces scrutiny from the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding its self-driving technology and related claims.

Tesla Recalls 2 Million Cars to Fix Autopilot Safety Flaws (1)

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