In their latest motion to dismiss Disney’s federal lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) board as hearings begin, attorneys for DeSantis are arguing that it doesn’t matter if the state of Florida acted in retaliation against Disney.
Court Hearings Begin for Disney vs. DeSantis
Court hearings in the lawsuit between Disney, DeSantis, and the CFTOD board began today, Tuesday, December 12, in front of U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor. According to Tallahassee.com today, attorneys for the state and the district referenced a 2015 appellate decision, stating that if a law is constitutional on its face, it doesn’t matter if it was created out of retaliation. Thus, whether or not DeSantis’ takeover of the Reedy Creek Improvement Distraction was retaliatory is irrelevant.
The conflict between Disney and DeSantis came to a head after former Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Chapek, pledged to end Florida campaign donations over the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. In what appeared to be an act of retaliation, DeSantis began various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the dissolution of Reedy Creek and the eventual transfer of power to CFTOD.
Disney originally filed to sue DeSantis and the CFTOD board on April 26, 2023, citing “A targeted campaign of government retaliation — orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech — now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”
DeSantis and the CFTOD pushed back, filing to dismiss the federal lawsuit in June. They then re-filed in late September after Disney updated their lawsuit and changed some of their claims to be part of a countersuit at the state level.