SEC use of Terraform ruling hints Coinbase dismissal motion attack plan

A recent filing from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in its lawsuit against crypto miner Green United could shed light on how it may approach the case against Coinbase.

On July 31, the SEC scored a win after Judge Jed Rakoff denied Terraform Lab’s motion to dismiss the case, rejecting its argument that relied on the “major questions doctrine.”

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Purported crypto miner Green United has used the same argument in its own motion to dismiss. It has also been a centerpiece for crypto defendants in cases against the SEC, including from crypto exchange Coinbase.

However, in an Aug. 4 filing, the SEC said the recent Terraform Labs ruling provides additional authority for rejecting Green United’s major questions doctrine and fair notice defenses.

The court rejected the defendant’s arguments that the major questions doctrine and the due process clause “prevent the SEC from alleging the company’s digital assets to be ‘investment contracts,’” the SEC’s letter reads.

“Accordingly, Terraform Labs is relevant to this matter because it provides additional authority for rejecting Defendants’ ‘Major Questions Doctrine’ and fair notice defenses,” it added.

The latest arguments from the SEC could shed light on how it may approach Coinbase’s own motion to dismiss, which was also filed on Aug. 4.

In Coinbase’s motion to dismiss the SEC lawsuit, the crypto exchange argued that the major questions doctrine applied, as the SEC attempted to regulate the secondary market for crypto trading.

The major questions doctrine was established in a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling outlining that Congress intends to make policy decisions and doesn’t delegate authority to agencies that require clear authorization from lawmakers.

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The judge in the SEC vs. Terraform case found Terraform “cannot wield a doctrine intended to be applied in exceptional circumstances as a tool to disrupt the routine work that Congress expected the SEC and other administrative agencies to perform.”

The SEC has previously used other rulings to bolster its arguments in similar cases.

In April, it sent a letter to the presiding judge in the SEC vs. Ripple Labs case highlighting a judge’s option in a lawsuit it won where it was deemed a longstanding court precedent provides sufficient fair notice.

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