WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court judge is asking how a new federal rule requiring publicly traded companies to disclose payments of $100,000 or more to foreign governments squares with the First Amendment's free speech protection.
The Securities and Exchange Commission rule applies to payments for commercial development of oil, gas or minerals. Business groups including the American Petroleum Institute are challenging the rule on several grounds — including their argument that it amounts to compelled speech in violation of the First Amendment.
At a hearing Friday, Judge David Sentelle asked several pointed questions of SEC lawyer William Shirey, who argued that factual information is not subject to First Amendment protections.
The rule, which stems from the Dodd-Frank 2010 financial overhaul law, is aimed at providing greater transparency in foreign projects.