Coinbase vs. SEC: Crypto Lawyer Files Amicus Brief


John Deaton, a crypto lawyer currently running for Senate to unseat Elizabeth Warren, has filed a brief supporting Coinbase in its legal battle against the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In an April 26 filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Deaton submitted an amicus brief on behalf of 4,701 Coinbase customers, pro bono, to represent their interests rather than Coinbase’s.

SEC is Interested in Damaging Coinbase

Deaton cited previous SEC enforcement actions, arguing that the regulator does not adequately represent digital asset users and investors and offers little regulatory guidance beyond citing the Howey case. 

He referenced the SEC’s civil cases against Debt Box, claiming the SEC was more interested in damaging crypto companies than upholding truth and justice, leading to a judge sanctioning the commission.

Additionally, on April 12, the Coinbase legal team took a strategic step in its ongoing legal battle with the SEC by filing a brief requesting permission to pursue an interlocutory appeal.

Successful Motion

While some linked Deaton’s actions to his ongoing Senate campaign, he initially positioned himself as a legal representative for Coinbase customers in June 2023, before announcing his campaign. An April 19 filing suggested that his motion to file an amicus brief was successful.

Deaton emphasized the importance of representing end-users of technology, stating that they should not let a biased and politically motivated agency speak for them. He clarified that this doesn’t mean Coinbase should speak for them either.

“Investment Contract”

According to Coinbase’s Chief Legal Officer, Paul Grewal, the interlocutory appeal questions whether the term “investment contract” requires contractual obligations after a sale, a key issue in the SEC’s case against the crypto exchange.

It’s uncertain how Deaton’s legal actions might affect his Senate campaign, given that the election is less than six months away. The candidates for the Massachusetts Senate seat, Deaton and Warren, hold significantly different views on digital assets. Warren recently signed a letter urging authorities to crack down on the use of cryptocurrency in payments for child sexual abuse material.

Coinbase and Crypto Sector

Notably, Kathryn Haun, a long-serving board member at Coinbase, announced her departure from the company later this year. 

This came at a time when the exchanges requested the United States District Court examine a key issue raised by the SEC in its lawsuit against the exchange.

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