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DeSantis Gets the Last Laugh Against Critics In Disney Battle

via NBC News
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Editor’s Note: This article mentions that Disney might appeal the federal court ruling, but this court decision happened earlier this winter. Disney agreed to put that appeal on hold.

A federal judge dismissed Disney’s lawsuit against Florida over the state’s revocation of the special district that had allowed Disney to self-govern.

Disney had alleged this was improper retaliation for its opposition to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. However, the judge ruled Disney lacked standing to sue and failed to demonstrate how it was harmed.

The judge noted Disney did not show how the new oversight board’s actions specifically injured the company or how an injunction against the governor’s influence would address Disney’s claim of not controlling the board.

U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor wrote, “Because Disney seeks injunctive relief, it must allege an imminent future injury … and it has not alleged facts showing that any imminent future appointments will contribute to its harm.”

“The analysis could be different if the Governor had not yet made any appointments. But as things stand, if this court enjoined future appointments, Disney would face the same situation it faces now: it would be operating under the [Central Florida Tourism Oversight District] board, over which it has no control. Stopping hypothetical future appointments would not redress any alleged imminent harm,” he continued.

Judge Winsor highlighted, “Disney has not alleged any specific actions the new board took (or will take) because of the Governor’s alleged control. In fact, Disney has not alleged any specific injury from any board action. Its alleged injury, as discussed above, is it’s operating under a board it cannot control.

He added, “That injury would exist whether or not the Governor controlled the board, meaning an injunction precluding the Governor from influencing the board would not redress Disney’s asserted injury.”

A Disney spokesman said, “This is an important case with serious implications for the rule of law, and it will not end here.”

They added, “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.”

DeSantis hailed the ruling as confirming Florida corporations do not have a right to special government privileges.

DeSantis’ press secretary Jeremy Redfern said, “The federal court’s decision made it clear that Gov. DeSantis was correct: Disney is still just one of many corporations in the state, and they do not have a right to their own special government.”

DeSantis posted, “One year ago, I signed legislation ending what an independent audit found to be one of the worst examples of cronyism in modern U.S. history: Reedy Creek, a local government controlled by a single company; Disney.”

“While so many claimed ending the cronyism would be bad for Florida, the result has been transparency and accountability, including a reduction of taxes and local businesses being allowed to compete for projects, saving the district millions of dollars,” continued the Florida Governor.

He added, “The federal lawsuit filed by Disney has been dismissed and the new state board continues to initiate positive reforms.”

While Disney plans to appeal, saying the case establishes whether states can punish companies for political views, the decision was a victory for DeSantis in his battle asserting that “We the People,” not any single corporation, should govern.

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