Disney Files Lawsuit Against Florida Governor DeSantis Over Alleged Retaliation, Highlighting Tension Between Businesses and Politicians

Disney has filed a lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, alleging that he has engaged in a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” that is harming the company’s business operations.[0] DeSantis has argued that the suit has “no merit” and is politically motivated.[1] The clash between Disney and DeSantis began last year when the state legislature passed a bill to restrict discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, a measure described by its opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.[2] Florida’s bill came under criticism from major companies and activist groups, with Disney being one of the most vocal opponents.[3] DeSantis ultimately signed the bill into law in March, despite the criticism.[3]

In response to Disney’s opposition to the bill, DeSantis and Florida lawmakers moved to strip the company of its self-governance powers and dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), an area surrounding Walt Disney World that afforded the company special tax status. They subsequently altered their approach and decided to remove the Disney-associated board and substitute it with a new board aligned with DeSantis.[3] In response, Disney passed covenants to keep such powers out of the hands of the board appointed by DeSantis.[4]

Disney’s lawsuit asks the court to essentially restore the special district to how it was before DeSantis’ attacks began, except with the development agreement now in place.[5] The litigation asks for the laws that overhauled the special district in the first place to be overturned, as well as the board’s vote to nullify the special agreement.[5] The case has been assigned to United States.[6] District Judge Mark Walker, an Obama appointee who has been willing to strike down DeSantis’ policies in the past, though the case could be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.[5]

The feud between Disney and DeSantis has attracted criticism from both sides of the aisle. United States.[6] Senator Marco Rubio has expressed concerns that future political battles could scare away businesses, while former President Donald Trump has criticized DeSantis for his stance on Disney.[7] Some conservative Disney fans have also come out against DeSantis, claiming his attacks against the company violate the First Amendment.[8]

Overall, the lawsuit highlights the tension between businesses and politicians when it comes to controversial legislation. While companies have the right to express their opinions and take a stance on political issues, they may face backlash from politicians who view their actions as an attack on their policies. As the case moves forward, it will be important to see how the court rules on the legality of DeSantis’ actions and the extent to which companies can express their political views without facing retaliation from the government.

0. “Cracks showing in Florida GOP support for DeSantis’ war with Disney” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/news/politics/2023/04/26/cracks-showing-in-florida-gop-support-for-desantis-war-with-disney/70156637007/

1. “GOP presidential contenders knock DeSantis over Disney” The Hill, 30 Apr. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/3980792-gop-presidential-contenders-knock-desantis-over-disney/

2. “Vivek Ramaswamy swipes at Ron DeSantis on Disney” POLITICO, 30 Apr. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/04/30/ramaswamy-swipes-desantis-on-disney-00094559

3. “Disney’s Lawsuit Against Ron DeSantis Could Get Very Weird” The New Republic, 28 Apr. 2023, https://newrepublic.com/article/172292/disney-desantis-lawsuit-reedy-creek

4. “DeSantis’ Central Florida Tourism Oversight District votes to void Disney deal” WESH 2 Orlando, 26 Apr. 2023, https://www.wesh.com/article/central-florida-tourism-oversight-district/43707407

5. “Disney Sues DeSantis: Here’s A Time Line Of Florida’s Year-Long War With The Mouse” Forbes, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisondurkee/2023/04/27/disney-sues-desantis-heres-a-timeline-of-floridas-year-long-war-with-the-mouse

6. “Disney’s lawsuit creates an important new problem for DeSantis” MSNBC, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/disneys-lawsuit-creates-important-new-problem-desantis-rcna81730

7. “Marco Rubio cautions Ron DeSantis on Florida feud with Disney World” Palm Beach Post, 30 Apr. 2023, https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/politics/2023/04/28/marco-rubio-cautions-ron-desantis-on-florida-feud-with-disney-world/70163571007

8. “Ron DeSantis F-cked With the Wrong Fandom” Rolling Stone, 28 Apr. 2023, https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/ron-desantis-disney-adults-reddit-1234724999/

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