Disney sues Florida governor DeSantis over ‘relentless campaign to weaponize government power’ News
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Disney sues Florida governor DeSantis over ‘relentless campaign to weaponize government power’

Disney filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and state officials, accusing them of spearheading a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” against the entertainment giant.

Disney filed the suit to block a state law that established an oversight board they claim will interfere with billions of dollars in planned development. The dispute between Disney and the governor began last year when the entertainment giant criticized a law signed by DeSantis that banned classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for younger children. DeSantis hit back in April 2022 by revoking the special status of Reedy Creek — a Disney-operated municipal district. Then in late February, he signed legislation that wrested control of the district from Disney and handed it over to the state. Disney claims the imposition of a state oversight board over the district it had previously operated on its own terms was punishment for its opposition of the so-called Don’t Say Gay law. 

At the heart of Disney’s lawsuit are allegations that DeSantis’ actions violated the US Constitution’s Contract Clause, the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause, and the 5th Amendment’s Taking Clause. The contentious legal battle erupted after a board handpicked by DeSantis voted to nullify a previously established agreement between Disney and last year’s board. In response, Disney is seeking injunctive relief to block the actions of both DeSantis and the board.

In court documents, Disney states that “Reedy Creek Improvement District, Disney’s local governing jurisdiction, was integral to its success,” and that DeSantis “paid no mind to the governing structure that facilitated Reedy Creek’s successful development until one year ago,” following the debacle over the controversial law. The lawsuit further stated that the State Legislature voted to dissolve Reedy Creek Improvement District and introduce the dissolution bill and a bill regarding independent districts.

Randy Fine who sponsored the dissolution bill was broadly quoted as having said: “You kick the hornet’s nest, things come up. And I will say this: You got me on one thing — this bill does target one company. It targets the Walt Disney Co. You want to know why? Because they are the only company in the state that has ever been granted the right to govern themselves.”

Disney states “Having exhausted efforts to seek a resolution.The Company is left with no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners from a relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain State officials.”