Disney isn’t letting up on its First Amendment federal case against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his hand-picked Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board.
The new board immediately began making changes within the District, and there are now 2 lawsuits pending involving Disney and the Board and/or DeSantis — one in state court and one in federal court. We’ve been keeping an eye on the feud, but now we’ve got an update from Disney.
According to CNBC, a new court filing from Disney made on October 30th warns if DeSantis is victorious in the federal lawsuit, it won’t be the last entity to be punished for “disfavored viewpoints,” possibly setting a dangerous precedent in First Amendment lawsuits.
DeSantis filed a motion to dismiss the suit back in August, asking a federal judge to throw out the case in Tallahassee. Disney’s federal lawsuit has accused the Governor of conducting a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” against Disney.
DeSantis’ reply in support of the motion to dismiss stated, “The Governor welcomes Disney’s surrender on all of its claims challenging his legislative acts” and called Disney’s complaint a “glorified press release.” Disney later filed to have the judge throw out the motion to dismiss the suit.
— CNBC (@CNBC) August 14, 2023
Disney stated that “if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wins a federal lawsuit in which Disney claims its free speech rights were violated by the Republican leader, the company won’t be the last entity to be punished over supporting a ‘disfavored viewpoint.’”
“If the line is not drawn here, there is no line at all,” Disney said in the new filing. “The retaliation against Disney for crossing the Governor’s ‘line’ was swift and severe: for the explicitly stated purpose of punishing Disney for its comments, the State immediately stripped Disney of its voting rights in the governing body that oversees Disney’s use of its own private property.”
The feud began in 2022 when Disney publicly opposed and criticized a state law passed by DeSantis, banning classroom lessons and discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida schools. Shortly thereafter, DeSantis hand-appointed a new board — the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board — to replace Disney’s self-governing Reedy Creek Improvement District.
This gave DeSantis control of the municipal services for the 43-mile radius that makes up Disney World property. Since then, the new board has made a number of changes including removing employee perks and benefits for those working within the District.
After DeSantis and his newly-appointed board took control of Disney World property, Disney sued DeSantis in federal court, stating that his actions were a direct violation of the First Amendment by punishing the Company for vocalizing opposition to the new Florida Parental Rights in Education (criticized as the “Don’t Say Gay”) Law.
We’ll be keeping an eye on this federal lawsuit — and the state lawsuit — for more updates as the cases progress through the courts. Be sure to stay tuned to AllEars for the latest updates.