Manufacturers Challenge SEC’s Authority to Politicize Corporate Governance
Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Association of Manufacturers filed a motion to intervene in National Center for Public Policy Research v. SEC, a case about the Securities and Exchange Commission’s authority to dictate the content of public company proxy ballots and the topics on which shareholders are required to cast votes. If granted intervenor status, the NAM will argue that the SEC’s rules requiring companies to include activist proposals on the proxy ballot violate federal securities law and the First Amendment. Following the filing of the motion to intervene, NAM Chief Legal Officer Linda Kelly released the following statement:
“Manufacturers are facing an onslaught of activists seeking to hijack the proxy ballot to advance narrow political agendas, and the SEC has become a willing partner in the effort. The corporate proxy ballot is not the appropriate venue for policy decisions better made by America’s elected representatives, and manufacturers are regularly caught in the middle as activists on the left and the right bring fights from the political arena into the boardroom. The NAM Legal Center is standing up for manufacturers to ensure they can focus on growing their businesses, driving economic expansion and job creation and creating value for shareholders.”
- Under SEC Rule 14a-8, public companies are required to include most shareholder proposals on their proxy ballot—proposals that in recent years have skewed increasingly toward social or political topics unrelated from a company’s business and its long-term value.
- The SEC evaluates company requests to exclude certain proposals from the ballot and increasingly requires companies to include and take a position on these proposals. For example, the NAM strongly opposed recent SEC guidance preventing companies from excluding proposals on environmental, social and governance topics of “broad societal impact”—irrespective of whether the proposal has any connection to the company’s operations.
- As intervenor in National Center for Public Policy Research v. SEC, the NAM would argue that the SEC cannot compel corporate speech, in violation of the First Amendment and federal securities laws, by forcing companies to include activist proposals on their proxy ballots.
The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.90 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 55% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.