This is the appeal of an adverse ruling from the district court judge in our suit challenging the SEC's conflict minerals rule. Click here for details on that ruling.
Our appeal has been expedited, and focuses on largely the same issues that were before the trial judge. Review is de novo, which means that the appeals court looks at the case fresh, without any presumption that the trial court's ruling is binding on them.
The NAM, joined by the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, argued that the SEC incorrectly interpreted the statute, which requires reporting of certain minerals that "did originate" in and around the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to cover minerals that "may have originated" there. It also failed to recognize and use its power to establish a reasonable de minimis exception for small amounts of minerals, which could provide substantial relief from the burdensome requirements of the rule for thousands of manufacturers. We also raised an important First Amendment objection to the requirement that companies make misleading and stigmatizing public statements unfairly linking their products to terrible human rights abuses.
We filed our main brief on the merits on Sept. 11, and our reply Nov. 13, 2013. Oral argument was held on Jan. 7, 2014, during which counsel for the SEC faced difficult questioning about the SEC's rule and the First Amendment objections. A ruling is expected sometime before initial reports are due on May 31, 2014.