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Disney Appeals Lawsuit Against Governor DeSantis After Judge’s Dismissal

Disney is appealing a judge’s decision to dismiss its lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other Florida leaders. Judge Allen Winsor of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee dismissed the initial lawsuit in its entirety on Wednesday. Disney had sued the Governor and other Florida leaders alleging that the company’s First Amendment rights had been violated after it spoke out against Florida legislation that restricted the teaching of sexual orientation in elementary schools.

The bill, commonly called the “don’t say gay” bill, was passed in 2022. Shortly after Disney spoke out against it, Governor DeSantis started speaking out against what he called “woke Disney.” What began as a verbal assault eventually led to Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature passing laws that dissolved the district that had been founded in 1967 to help with the building of Walt Disney World Resort and also provide governing services for most of the area it is in. Along with dissolving and then replacing the Reedy Creek Improvement District with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (governed by the Governor’s hand-picked board members), other legislation was passed that created a new regulation system solely for Walt Disney World’s monorail.

Before the new governing body took over the district, Disney and the Reedy Creek Improvement District signed several development agreements that set the course for the district for the foreseeable future with Disney determining its development. Upon discovering this, Florida leaders decided to nullify them, leading to the initial federal lawsuit. In it, Disney accused Florida leaders of a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint.” It says that Florida’s continued campaign against it “now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region and violates its constitutional rights.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger has also previously called the actions a clear case of government retaliation. After Judge Allen dismissed the case on Wednesday, Disney vowed to continue its efforts saying, “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.”

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District said its own part in statement saying, “Disney just can’t win for losing in this lawsuit. First, they voluntarily dismissed almost all their causes of action against the district. Now, they are trying to revive the remaining causes of action that the Judge dismissed based upon well-established federal law. These shameful litigation tactics are costing the district unnecessary legal expenses. All the while, our board, on behalf of the district, continues to adopt new transparency and accountability governance policies, invest in new infrastructure, reduce procurement costs, reduce the district tax rate and award district contracts to small businesses that were never on the Disney preferred vendor list.”

Daps Magic will continue to follow this story and provide updates as they become available. How do you think this will play out? How do you think it should play out?


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