In a recent development, The Walt Disney Co. has amended its ongoing lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, focusing primarily on alleged violations of the First Amendment. The original lawsuit had included claims related to Contracts Clause, Takings Clause, and Due Process Clause violations, but those claims have now been dropped.
Withdrawal of Claims Against Ron DeSantis
The conflict between Disney and DeSantis dates back to earlier this year when a disagreement arose over development contracts between Disney and a special district in Florida. On February 8, 2023, a day before the Florida state legislature passed a bill at DeSantis’ request, an agreement was reached between Disney and the district. However, the newly passed bill allowed DeSantis to personally appoint members to the district’s governing body, which ultimately led to a legal dispute between Disney and the governor.
In April, Disney filed a lawsuit against DeSantis, claiming that he was targeting the company because of its views. Disney alleged that DeSantis had hand-picked an oversight board that invalidated the previous agreement between Disney and the district’s oversight board. The company argued that this move violated its right to free speech.
Following Disney’s lawsuit, the state of Florida retaliated by taking the company to court. The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, representing Orange and Osceola counties, accused Disney of engaging in last-minute deals to retain its authority over the development around its theme park.
However, Disney has now decided to narrow its focus in the lawsuit, dropping the aforementioned contract and due process violations. The current lawsuit is centered on the claim that DeSantis retaliated against Disney specifically due to the company’s opposition to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which Disney argues infringed on its right to free speech.
By amending the lawsuit, Disney is now seeking to hold DeSantis accountable for what it perceives as an unconstitutional violation of its First Amendment rights. The outcome of this legal battle will have implications not only for Disney but also for the larger discussion on the limits and protection of free speech.