Disney has escalated its legal fight against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who took over the theme park district that governs Disney World and passed laws that target its design, construction and monorail system.
The entertainment giant filed an amended complaint on Monday in federal court in Tallahassee, adding recent developments in the tit-for-tat dispute that began last year when Disney publicly opposed a state law that bans classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades, a policy critics call “Don’t Say Gay.”
Disney claims that DeSantis retaliated against its free speech rights by appointing a new board of supervisors for the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which oversees municipal services for the sprawling theme parks and hotels. The new board, which consists of DeSantis loyalists, has sued Disney to regain control of design and construction at Disney World.
The amended complaint also references legislation passed last week by Florida lawmakers that rescinds agreements that Disney and a previous board made earlier this year, giving the company more autonomy over its property. The new laws also grant the state unprecedented authority to inspect Disney World’s monorail system, which previously had been conducted in-house.
Disney is the only company impacted by the new laws and it “was precision-engineered to target Disney alone, just as Governor DeSantis intended and previewed,” said the amended lawsuit.
DeSantis has denied any political motivation behind his actions and said he was acting in the best interest of Florida taxpayers and residents. He has accused Disney of trying to evade public oversight and accountability.
The lawsuit asks a federal judge to void the governor’s takeover of the theme park district, as well as the board’s actions, on the grounds that they were violations of Disney’s free speech rights.Embed from Getty Images
The legal battle has drawn national attention as DeSantis prepares to launch an expected presidential bid in the coming weeks. It has also raised questions about the future of Disney World, which is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and a major source of revenue for Disney.
Some experts have said that Disney has a strong case based on its First Amendment claims, while others have argued that DeSantis has broad powers to regulate special districts like Reedy Creek. The outcome of the lawsuit could have significant implications for both parties and their reputations.
- Disney expands free speech lawsuit against DeSantis by Associated Press on MSN, 5/9/2023
- Disney updates its lawsuit against DeSantis to add new events by Associated Press on WUSF Public Media, 5/8/2023
- Disney’s lawsuit against DeSantis keeps getting bigger by Mike Schneider and The Associated Press on Fortune, 5/9/2023