Things are heating up in the ongoing battle between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. And the arguments are getting interesting.
Lawyers for Disney, DeSantis, and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (formerly the Reedy Creek Improvement District) recently went in front of the judge who is hearing their case. If you haven’t been keeping up with the fight, Disney is suing Governor DeSantis for violating its First Amendment Right to free speech.
Disney claims that Mr. DeSantis retaliated against them when he dissolved Reedy Creek and put in a new board handpicked by himself when ex-Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill. It was a bill that DeSantis championed (which passed and has now been expanded).
Now, lawyers for DeSantis and the CFTOD are arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed — and they said that it doesn’t matter if DeSantis retaliated against Disney, as long as the law LOOKS constitutional.
Citing a 2015 appellate decision, they say if a law is constitutional on its face, it doesn’t matter if it was created for retaliatory reason.
The state mentions that case in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit. But it’s extensively expanded on by attorneys for the Disney district, previously called the Reedy Creek Improvement District and renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
Charles Cooper, an attorney for the district, talked in length about the case, telling Winsor it “dooms” Disney’s First Amendment challenge.
Disney’s lawyer, however, argues that the case being cited by DeSantis’ lawyer does not apply here. John Hacker — the lawyer for Disney — said that the Mouse House wouldn’t have an argument if the state could prove that dissolving Reedy Creek was done for “genuine economic reasons”. However, they cannot. He continued, telling the judge that this was the most “clear case” of government retribution the judge will see.
The judge overseeing the lawsuit – District Judge Allen Winsor – said that he hopes to have a decision on DeSantis’ motion to dismiss within the next couple of weeks.
Legal experts are largely in agreement that Mr. DeSantis is likely to lose the lawsuit. DeSantis has admitted multiple times — even in his new book — that he only went after Disney after they spoke out against the Parental Rights law, also called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
When the Reedy Creek Improvement District was in control of Walt Disney World Resort, it was in charge of paying for things like road maintenance, new construction, police officers, first responders, and more. However, now that the state controls the special district, Disney is no longer required to pay for those things.
What do you think of DeSantis’ lawyer’s most recent argument? Let us know in the comments!