“Businesses suing to overturn a federal law aimed at drawing attention to and curbing violence in central Africa told a federal judge Monday that it infringes on corporate free-speech rights.
“The National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representing a broad group of businesses, in a hearing in federal district court in Washington said the regulation is unconstitutional because it forces companies to make disclosures linking their products to human-rights violations.
“A mandate of the Dodd-Frank financial law, the Securities and Exchange Commission rule requires companies that use certain minerals linked to violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and surrounding region to file a report with the SEC saying what steps they took to verify the minerals weren’t taxed or controlled by rebel groups. The four minerals covered by the rule are thought to be used to finance groups committing atrocities in the area.
“The argument is a new line of attack against a rule that companies say is too costly and a poor solution to a faraway humanitarian crisis. The business groups also said Monday that the SEC should have exempted companies that use tiny amounts of the minerals.”
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