Ron DeSantis’ Attorneys Seek Dismissal of Disney Lawsuit….Again
In the latest chapter in As the Disney World Turns, attorneys for Florida Govenor Ron DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) have asked a federal judge to dismiss Disney’s First Amendment lawsuit against the govenor and special district.
The attorneys filed two motions disputing Disney’s assertion that DeSantis and Florida legislatures dissolved the Disney-appointed Reedy Creek Improvement District in retaliation for Disney publically speaking out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law that critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay”.
“Disney claims that the First Amendment gives it, rather than Florida lawmakers, the right to decide the structure and composition of the governing entity in the district,” attorneys for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District wrote. “Disney may own most of the land in the district, but it does not own the government. That still belongs to the people, acting through their elected representatives.”
In their motion, attorneys for DeSantis argued that the dissolution of Reedy Creek was about reform, not punishment. Disney, they argue is suing in a “last-ditch effort to reinstate its corporate kingdom”.
Disney meanwhile is arguing that the dissolution of Reedy Creek was retaliation plain and simple. The governor’s actions they said were “a clear violation of Disney’s federal First Amendment rights for the state to inflict a concerted campaign of retaliation because the company expressed an opinion with which the government disagreed”.
“Disney regrets that it has come to this,” the lawsuit said. “But 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.”
DeSantis Argues He Is Immune From Lawsuit
In addition to contending the First Amendment argument that Disney is making, the motion filed on Thursday argues that because the govenor does not “enforce any of the laws at issue” Disney lacks standing to sue him.
“The governor’s appointment power is just one aspect of the governmental apparatus that the Legislature created to replace RCID’s (Reedy Creek Improvement District’s) charter,” the motion said. “The cause of Disney’s alleged injury is thus not the governor’s ‘enforcement’ of … (the) appointment provision, but the ‘very existence’ of … (the) repeal provision.”
U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor has given Disney until October 19 to respond to the filings.