Disney versus DeSantis

Federal Judge Dismisses Disney Free Speech Lawsuit Against Governor DeSantis

A federal judge has dismissed Disney’s lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that alleged the governor and other Florida officials violated its First Amendment rights. This comes as Governor DeSantis and the other defendants had argued that the case should be dismissed because Disney couldn’t sue over constitutionally enacted state laws.

“Disney lacks standing to sue the Governor or the Secretary,” the judge said in his ruling, according to a court filing. The company’s claims against the Central Florida Tourism Oversight district board also fail because “when a statute is facially constitutional, a plaintiff cannot bring a free-speech challenge by claiming that the lawmakers who passed it acted with a constitutionally impermissible purpose.”

A Disney spokesperson said to Reuters, “This is an important case with serious implications for the rule of law, and it will not end here.

“If left unchallenged, this would set a dangerous precedent and give license to states to weaponize their official powers to punish the expression of political viewpoints they disagree with. We are determined to press forward with our case.”

Governor DeSantis and other Florida officials did not immediately respond a request for comment.

The dispute began in 2022 when then Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against legislation that was supported by Governor DeSantis. This legislation, often referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, limited education in lower level classrooms about sexuality. After Disney came out against the bill, Governor DeSantis began verbally attacking Disney, often referring to it as “woke Disney.” He continued to ramp up rhetoric and then eventually pushed legislation to repeal the Reedy Creek Improvement District, where most of Walt Disney World Resort resides. This district was established in 1967 to help with the creation of Walt Disney World and had close ties to the company. After it was dissolved, Florida replaced it with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. This new district was mainly the same as its predecessor but had a board that was nominated by the Florida Governor.

Disney initially sued Governor DeSantis and other Florida leaders accusing them of using government for retaliation and also violating Disney’s First Amendment rights to free speech. This isn’t the only lawsuit that is working its way through the courts surrounding this controversy. There is also court battles happening at the state level.

The dismissal of this case will most likely not be the end of this story. Disney has vowed to continue to press the issue. How exactly the company does that remains to be seen.

What do you think about this development in the controversy between Disney and Governor DeSantis? Was it the right call? What do you think should happen next? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!


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