Last week, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued its long-awaited opinion relating to legal challenges to the Securities and Exchange Commission's conflict minerals disclosure rules. The DC Circuit upheld all of the challenged aspects of the SEC's final disclosure rules, but struck down on free speech grounds the SEC mandate that reporting companies describe certain products in their SEC filings (and on their websites) as being "not Democratic Republic of the Congo conflict free." A copy of the decision is available at: cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/D3B5DAF947A03F2785257CBA0053AEF8/$file/13-5252-1488184.pdf
The decision is important to the extent that it upholds the government's ability to require public companies to disclose information relating to social responsibility and human rights, even though that information may not be financially material to a company’s operations. This decision, however, also limits the government’s ability to force public companies to characterize certain of their corporate activities in negative ways.
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