The Feud Between Disney and Florida Governor DeSantis: A Battle for First Amendment Rights

In April of this year, The Walt Disney Company filed a federal lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, alleging that the governor had violated the company’s First Amendment and other constitutional rights. The lawsuit came after DeSantis led an effort to strip Disney of control over a special district that includes its Florida theme parks.[0] Disney claimed that this was retaliation for the company’s opposition to a parental rights bill, which critics referred to as the “don’t say gay” law.

The feud between Disney and DeSantis began last year when Disney publicly opposed the Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill limited classroom instruction in public schools on sexual orientation and gender identity, and Disney vowed to help repeal it.[1] In response, DeSantis signed a bill to strip Disney of its independent special district status, which had granted the company certain privileges and autonomy.[2]

Fast forward to April 2023, and Disney filed a federal lawsuit against DeSantis and the members of the District’s new Board of Supervisors.[0] The lawsuit alleges that DeSantis unlawfully retaliated against Disney for speaking out against the “Don’t Say Gay” law and called his actions a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” against the company. In May, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, now renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, filed its own state lawsuit against Disney, challenging development agreements made between Disney and the special district.

DeSantis, in response, has urged Disney to drop the lawsuit and move forward.[3] He argues that his actions were not retaliation, but rather an effort to treat all companies equally and not grant extraordinary privileges to one special company at the exclusion of others. DeSantis believes that Disney has had problems apart from their battle with Florida, and he suggests that the company has lost the confidence of parents.[4] He believes that Disney should focus on what they do well and make the right business decision.[5]

The legal battle between Disney and DeSantis continues, with both sides making their arguments in court. DeSantis’s legal team has claimed that Disney lacks standing to sue him and that the company’s complaint is nothing more than a glorified press release.[6] Disney, on the other hand, argues that DeSantis does not have immunity from the lawsuit and that his actions in signing the bill to strip Disney of its special district status were unlawful.

As the legal proceedings continue, it remains to be seen how this feud between Disney and DeSantis will ultimately be resolved. Both sides are determined to fight for their positions, but it is unclear who will come out on top. In the meantime, the public will be watching closely to see how this dispute unfolds and what impact it may have on Disney’s operations in Florida.

0. “Ron DeSantis Says He Has “Moved On” And Disney Should Drop Its Lawsuit Against Him” Yahoo Entertainment, 14 Aug. 2023,

1. “DeSantis, tourism district argue for dismissal of Disney lawsuit” Yahoo News, 9 Aug. 2023,

2. “DeSantis Urges Disney CEO to Drop Lawsuit against Florida Officials” National Review, 15 Aug. 2023,

3. “Ron DeSantis calls for Bob Iger to drop Disney lawsuit, says he’s ‘moved on'” Washington Examiner, 14 Aug. 2023,

4. “Ron DeSantis says ‘Disney has had a lot of problems’ and he has ‘moved on’ from the feud”, 14 Aug. 2023,

5. “DeSantis says he’s ‘basically moved on’ from heated Disney feud and urged Bob Iger to drop lawsuit” Daily Mail, 14 Aug. 2023,

6. “Ron DeSantis Again Claims Immunity From Disney Lawsuit Over Theme Park District; Former Governors Side With Company In Friend-Of-The-Court Brief” Deadline, 9 Aug. 2023,

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