A petition recently advocating for defendants to have the right to deny allegations when settling with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has garnered support from SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce. Peirce stated that the current gag rule undermines regulatory integrity.
Implemented in 1972, the controversial rule prohibits defendants from publicly denying any allegations made by the SEC after settling. The rationale is to prevent defendants from making the SEC look unreliable. However, Peirce argues this infringes on free speech rights.
The reform push comes from the New Civil Liberties Alliance, which wants defendants to be able to admit, deny, or refrain from addressing allegations in settlements. The SEC dismissed the petition, but Peirce believes it warrants serious consideration.
In her statement, Peirce said the gag rule blocks Americans from criticizing regulatory bodies, which she feels is vital for government accountability. She warned the inability of defendants to dispute SEC claims after settling cases raises concerns over transparency and First Amendment rights.
While the SEC sees the rule as crucial for enforcing actions, Peirce contends Americans must be free to critique settlements. Her stance signals escalating debates over balancing regulatory authority with civil liberties.