DeSantis handed big win in months-long legal battle with Disney

Orlando, Florida - A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed Disney's lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, which claimed he had illegally retaliated against the entertainment giant.

A Disney lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was dismissed on Wednesday after a federal judge ruled that the company had no legal standing.
A Disney lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was dismissed on Wednesday after a federal judge ruled that the company had no legal standing.  © Collage: REUTERS

The Republican and Disney – whose theme park in central Florida is one of the state's largest employers – have been at loggerheads since 2022 when the company spoke out against the notorious DeSantis-backed "Don't Say Gay" bill.

At the time, the 45-year-old was seen as a rising right-wing star who could potentially displace former President Donald Trump as the Republican 2024 standard-bearer.

After Disney's criticism, DeSantis pushed the Republican-controlled legislature to revoke its special self-governance arrangement, which had allowed the city-sized theme park to run its own zoning and infrastructure projects.

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Disney later sued DeSantis, characterizing his actions as a "targeted campaign of government retaliation" that violated the company's right to free speech.

But District Judge Allen Winsor, a Trump appointee, dismissed the lawsuit Wednesday on the grounds that the company lacked legal "standing" to take DeSantis to court.

Disney responds to ruling

Disney pledged to appeal the ruling, saying in a statement to AFP that the case has "serious implications for the rule of law."

"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," it said.

DeSantis recently suspended his presidential campaign after a steep fall from the polling heights of last summer.

Cover photo: Collage: REUTERS

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