Disney's Lawsuit Against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Junked by Court

By Jace Dela Cruz

Feb 01, 2024 05:42 AM EST

A federal judge junked on Wednesday Disney's free speech lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies, including the board he appointed to oversee the entertainment giant's property in the state. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Campaigns For President In New Hampshire
(Photo : Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE - JANUARY 19: Republican presidential candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters during a campaign rally at the Courtyard by Marriott Nashua on January 19, 2024 in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Disney's Lawsuit Against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Dismissed

According to CNN, the lawsuit, filed by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in April, accused Ron DeSantis of using his political power to punish the company for exercising its right to free speech under the First Amendment.

However, US District Judge Allen Winsor in Tallahassee ruled on Wednesday that Disney lacked standing to sue the governor and that the claims of the company against the oversight board failed on merit.

The judge noted that Disney had not disclosed "any specific actions the new board took (or will take) because of the Governor's alleged control." However, the dismissal did not end the legal disputes between the two parties, as Disney can still appeal the ruling.

In a statement sent to CNN, a Disney spokesperson said the company was determined to "press forward" with its case, implying that the firm plans to appeal the judge's decision. The spokesperson noted that this was "an important case with serious implications for the rule of law, and it will not end here." 

The spokesperson added that "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."

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Disney vs. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

The lawsuit was filed after Ron DeSantis signed a bill that gave him authority over the district that contains Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney lost its municipal control over the area after the governor's bill was passed. DeSantis then established the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and picked five people to sit there to oversee the area.

The feud between DeSantis and Disney started two years ago after the company publicly opposed the state's so-called don't say gay law, which banned some lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida classrooms.

DeSantis championed the law. In retaliation for Disney's objection to the law, DeSantis and his fellow Republican legislators reportedly took over the district Disney had controlled for over five decades.

A separate lawsuit over who controls the district is still pending in Orlando. This is Disney's remaining hope to regain its control over the district.

READ MORE: Nelson Peltz vs. Disney: Billionaire Activist Investor Seeks Multiple Board Seats as He Launches New Proxy Battle

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