Nearly two years ago, now ex-Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill. The bill was dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and was championed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Shortly after Chapek spoke out against the bill, Governor DeSantis began his crusade against the House of Mouse.
Mr. DeSantis and the Republican-led state legislature quickly dissolved the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which stripped Disney of its right to self-govern. They then voted to move Disney’s monorail system under state inspection control. The Governor appointed his own loyalists to lead the district formerly known as Reedy Creek. That new board is now having its own issues with the company.
After more than a year of dealing with the Governor, Disney officially filed a lawsuit against DeSantis. The company claimed that Mr. DeSantis had violated its First Amendment rights to free speech when he targeted them. Disney claimed that the governor had waged a campaign of retaliation against them, simply because they said something that he did not like.
Now, a judge has sided with the controversial Governor. Disney’s case against Ron DeSantis has officially been dismissed.
District Judge Allen Winsor said that Disney did not have a claim of retaliation because the laws DeSantis created that targeted the company are “facially constitutional.”
DeSantis’ lawyer had made that claim earlier when asking the judge to dismiss the case. The governor’s legal team said that it “didn’t matter” if DeSantis punished Disney, because the laws he passed looked constitutional. Because the laws appeared constitutional at face value, it doesn’t matter if it was created for a retaliatory reason.
The judge also determined that Governor DeSantis had every right to dissolve Reedy Creek and then appoint a board of his own loyalists.
Disney, however, highly disagreed with the judge’s ruling. Shortly after the ruling, a Disney spokesperson released a short statement:
“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.”
Disney has not said yet if it plans to appeal the judge’s ruling, but its statement appears to indicate such a move.
The ruling is relatively surprising, considering that Governor DeSantis admitted multiple times to going after Disney because they spoke out against him. He even admitted to retaliation in his new book. Many constitutional law experts said that Disney had a very strong case.
Do you think the judge should have dismissed the case? Let us know in the comments!