Ron DeSantis’s short presidential run may have distracted him from some of his duties as Governor, but he is back and still taking on the woke left in Florida.
Disney is still continuing to push itself into Florida’s cultural divide, and they found out that DeSantis won’t back down.
Now, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just notched another major victory against Disney.
A federal judge has now dismissed a lawsuit from the Walt Disney Company against Ron DeSantis that could have decided the woke entertainment giant’s authority to control development around its Orlando theme park.
Disney “lacks the standing to sue the Governor”
In an order issued last week, U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor ruled that Disney “lacks standing to sue the governor” and DeSantis’ handpicked board that now controls the district where the company’s park operates.
He also concluded that the statute reshaping the district’s leadership structure and granting the Governor the authority to appoint every member of the tax district’s governing body is “facially constitutional” and can’t be challenged by Disney with a free speech claim.
In a statement released after the decision, a Disney spokesperson said, “This is an important case with serious implications for the rule of law, and it will not end here.”
He added, “If left unchallenged, this would set a dangerous precedent and give license to states to weaponize their official powers to punish the expression of political viewpoints they disagree with.”
Disney filed the suit last year after the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD), whose members were appointed by the Governor, voided an agreement that transferred certain powers to the company’s now-dissolved special district back to the company.
The development contracts were secretly signed by the previous oversight board just the day before the state legislature passed a bill at DeSantis’ direction, giving him control of the district.
The move by DeSantis and the legislature was made to retaliate against Disney for opposing a common sense law that limited the introduction of sexual material in the classroom.
Promoting transparency and accountability
CFTOD chairman Martin Garcia responded to the Judge’s ruling in a statement, “Our board and the district will now continue to make the appropriate changes to operate and function as an independent government agency to promote transparency and accountability while bringing more prosperity to more people in Florida.”
Before the new law, Disney enjoyed special voting rights and controlled the district that oversaw its theme park.
Now, the giant mouse faces decisions by a board over which it has no authority.
Disney had tried to argue that DeSantis had “actual control” over the board since he had the power to appoint every member.
Winsor, however, didn’t buy that argument.
“To the extent the Governor contributed to Disney’s injury by appointing CFTOD board members, that action is in the past. Because Disney seeks injunctive relief, it must allege an imminent future injury, and it has not alleged facts showing that any imminent future appointments will contribute to its harm.”
If the court had granted Disney’s request to block future appointments, the Judge ruled, the company would essentially be in the same position of operating under the current board.
Responding to arguments that DeSantis is exercising actual control over the CFTOD’s actions, Judge Winsor said the allegations are “conclusory” since Disney could not point to any specific actions the board took at the Governor’s direction.
“In fact, Disney has not alleged any specific injury from any board action,” the Judge wrote, who also noted the only alleged harm suffered by Disney is operating under a board it does not control.
The Judge also ruled the statute Disney is challenging constitutional, meaning the entertainment company can’t bring a free speech challenge against the lawmakers who passed it.
The ruling said the state legislature is allowed to determine the structure of Florida’s special improvement districts.
In making the finding, Winsor rejected arguments Disney was explicitly targeted by DeSantis because “no one reading the text of the challenged laws would suppose them directed against” the company.
“The laws do not mention Disney,” the Judge wrote.
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