Disney Files Lawsuit Against Florida Governor for Violation of First Amendment Rights

Disney has filed a lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, alleging retaliation and violation of its First Amendment rights over free speech.[0] The company had publicly opposed Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which banned the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation topics in elementary schools in the state.[1] DeSantis then stripped Disney of its special status, which had given it self-governing power over the Reedy Creek Improvement District since the 1960s.[2] The governor replaced the district with a new board of supervisors, leading to the lawsuit.[3] Disney’s suit alleges that a targeted campaign of government retaliation orchestrated by DeSantis is threatening its business operations and violating its constitutional rights.[0] The company has expanded its lawsuit to include new regulations passed by the state legislature that allow officials to nullify development agreements brokered by the entertainment giant.


The ongoing battle between DeSantis and Disney raises serious First Amendment questions, as governments are not free to strike out at people, groups or businesses over their political speech.[4] Additionally, the new oversight board appointed by the governor repudiated the old board’s contracts and enactments, which seems legally iffy.[5] While DeSantis had calculated that boasting about his war on “woke Disney” would be a winner, a string of his staged uses of state power against assorted woke and liberal enemies have flopped.[6] Disney’s lawsuit highlights the importance of not punishing private businesses for expressing political viewpoints, as the government cannot punish individuals for speaking their mind.

0. “Ron DeSantis Says Disney Has “Not Made A Peep” Since Skirmish Over “Don’t Say Gay” Law: “The Party Is Over For Them”” Deadline, 7 May. 2023, https://deadline.com/2023/05/ron-desantis-disney-not-made-a-peep-skirmish-dont-say-gay-law-party-is-over-1235358563/

1. “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

2. “Disney adds new Florida regulations to suit against DeSantis” The Hill, 9 May. 2023, https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/3995602-disney-adds-new-florida-regulations-to-suit-against-desantis/

3. “Disney Should Thank DeSantis for His Big Dumb Mouth” New York Magazine, 3 May. 2023, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/05/disney-should-thank-ron-desantis-for-his-big-dumb-mouth.html

4. “DeSantis Taunt in Disney Typeface Tempts Trademark Punchback” Bloomberg Law, 4 May. 2023, https://news.bloomberglaw.com/ip-law/desantis-taunt-in-disney-typeface-tempts-trademark-punchback

5. “Mark Lane: Disney vs. DeSantis, Round 2 now in the courts” Daytona Beach News-Journal, 6 May. 2023, https://www.news-journalonline.com/story/opinion/columns/2023/05/06/mark-lane-disney-vs-desantis-round-2-now-in-the-courts/70186814007

6. “Opinion | How DeSantis accidentally handed Disney a potent weapon against him” The Washington Post, 2 May. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/05/02/ron-desantis-disney-lawsuit-wokeness-donald-trump-2024

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