Disney's free speech lawsuit against DeSantis tossed, second suit pending


TALLAHASSEE — A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed Disney’s free speech lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, leaving the company’s remaining hopes of regaining control of the district that governs Walt Disney World to a separate state court challenge.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis

U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor in Tallahassee said in his decision that Disney lacked standing in its First Amendment lawsuit against the Republican governor and his appointees to the Disney World governing district. 

The separate lawsuit is still pending in state court in Orlando.

In a written statement released by the governor’s office, DeSantis praised the judge’s ruling.

This ruling finally ends Disney’s futile attempts to control its own special government and receive benefits not available to other businesses throughout the state,” the governor’s statement said. 

The feud between DeSantis and Disney started in 2022 after the company publicly opposed the state’s so-called don’t say gay law, which banned classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades.

The law was championed by DeSantis, who recently suspended his campaign for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. In retaliation for Disney objecting to the law, DeSantis and Republican legislators took over the district Disney had controlled for more than five decades and installed five board members loyal to the governor.

The state and its largest employer are also locked in another battle.

Disney has filed a lawsuit claiming that the oversight government for Walt Disney World, which was taken over by appointees of Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year, has failed to release documents and properly preserve records in violation of Florida public records law.



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