Federal judge dismisses Disney's free speech lawsuit against Ron DeSantis

A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed Walt Disney Co.’s 1st Amendment lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, delivering a legal victory to the Republican leader who recently ended his presidential campaign.

Disney sued DeSantis in April after the conservative governor and his allies in the state took control of the special district that governs Walt Disney World. Disney had argued that DeSantis and state Republicans had waged a concerted campaign to punish Disney for exercising its speech rights to criticize Florida’s anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

The governing body, formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, gave Disney unusual powers in the area, effectively serving as the company’s own municipal government. DeSantis had the district renamed and appointed his own board to oversee it.

DeSantis’ attorneys moved to have Disney’s case dismissed late last year, arguing that the Burbank entertainment giant did not have standing to sue. The judge ruled in DeSantis’ favor.

“This is an important case with serious implications for the rule of law, and it will not end here,” a Disney spokesman said in a statement. “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. We are determined to press forward with our case.”

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