Judge dismisses Disney’s lawsuit against Ron DeSantis, setting potential precedent for free speech battles

Orlando, Florida – In a blow to Disney’s ongoing dispute with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a federal judge has dismissed the company’s lawsuit against him. District Judge Allen Winsor, nominated by former President Donald Trump, ruled that Disney “lacks standing” to sue the governor, prompting a strong reaction from both sides.

The conflict between Disney and DeSantis began when the governor tightened control over the Florida amusement park in response to the company’s criticism of his ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation. However, Winsor cited previous rulings that stated plaintiffs could not challenge a “constitutional” law change on free speech grounds by claiming that lawmakers acted with an impermissible purpose. This ruling favors DeSantis and erodes Disney’s legal position.

In response to the ruling, a Disney spokesperson stated that the case has serious implications, and they are determined to press forward. They argued that if left unchallenged, this decision could set a dangerous precedent, allowing states to punish the expression of political viewpoints they disagree with. DeSantis’ press secretary, Jeremy Redfern, welcomed the outcome, claiming it affirms that the governor was acting within his rights.

The feud between DeSantis and Disney has been ongoing since the passage of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. This law, also known as the Parental Rights in Education Bill, bans LGBTQ+ topics and discussions from classrooms up to the third grade. Disney publicly criticized the legislation, leading DeSantis to revoke its special tax district status in Florida.

Last year, DeSantis took control of the special-development district that Disney had managed since the mid-Sixties, stating that the “corporate kingdom finally comes to an end.” In response, Disney filed a lawsuit against the governor and Tourism Oversight board members, claiming they were being punished for expressing their political views. However, Winsor ruled that Disney’s claims of injury resulting from the appointment of board members were in the past, and the company failed to show damages from specific actions the new board has taken or will take.

Despite this setback for Disney, the case is still pending, leaving room for further legal battles. The outcome of this dispute has significant implications for the relationship between corporations and government officials, as well as the freedom of political expression. Both Disney and DeSantis are determined to continue fighting for their respective positions, ensuring this story is far from over.