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(Reuters) — Elon Musk on Wednesday urged a federal judge not to prevent him from publicly discussing a lawsuit accusing him of deceiving Tesla Inc. shareholders by tweeting in 2018 about taking his electric car company private.
In a filing with the federal court in San Francisco, Mr. Musk and Tesla said the shareholders' request for an overbroad “gag order” could not be reconciled with the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of free speech.
They also said the proposed restrictions could block Mr. Musk from communicating with Tesla shareholders, discussing his proposal to buy Twitter Inc., and trying to end his consent decree with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which requires Tesla lawyers to vet some of his tweets.
The shareholders' request “evokes a level of censorship entirely incompatible with our justice system and the basic tenets of free speech,” lawyers for Tesla and Mr. Musk wrote.
Lawyers for the shareholders did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit stemmed from volatility in Tesla's shares after Mr. Musk tweeted on Aug. 7, 2018, that he had “funding secured” to potentially take Tesla private at $420 per share.
Shareholders on April 15 sought a temporary restraining order blocking Mr. Musk from publicly discussing his “interpretation and opinions” of their case until after a trial. Their request came after they said U.S. District Judge Edward Chen agreed with them that the tweet was “false and misleading.”