by Cydney Posner
As noted in this morning’s thecorporatecounsel.net blog, the WSJ is reporting that the SEC is “preparing to implement the bulk of a ‘conflict minerals’ rule this spring despite a U.S. court ruling that struck down a core provision on free-speech grounds, according to a person familiar with the matter.” According to the article, the SEC will “implement all but a portion of the rule requiring companies to list whether their products are ‘conflict free,’ the person said.” As you know, the D.C. Circuit upheld most of the conflict minerals rule, but struck down the requirement to identify some products as “not been found to be DRC conflict free” on First Amendment grounds. Yesterday, two SEC Commissioners issued a joint statement objecting to this anticipated position in advance of any public announcement by the SEC.
As the article notes, a number of Senate and House members wrote to SEC Chair Mary Jo White last week, urging “that all due diligence and other reporting requirements due on the May 31, 2014, initial filing deadline move forward as promulgated…. With strong court decisions affirming the key components of the rule, no delay is warranted in the implementation of those requirements while any remaining free speech issues are resolved (namely the listing of specific products that are not “DRC Conflict Free” and the requirement for companies to also post their reports on their own websites).” The WSJ reports that the SEC “staff has recommended an approach broadly in line with what the lawmakers outlined, an approach Ms. White supports…. The SEC is expected to announce the decision in the coming days….”