Florida judge rules in favor of DeSantis: the lawsuit in which Disney claimed its autonomy was dismissed

The accusation filed by the entertainment giant maintained that the loss of control over the resort was the result of alleged retaliation.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Disney against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the board that the state had appointed to oversee Walt Disney World. The lawsuit alleged retaliation by state authorities after the entertainment giant criticized Florida's restrictions on discussions of sexuality in classrooms.

This Wednesday, Judge Allen Winsor ruled that Disney lacks standing to sue DeSantis or the state oversight board on the grounds that the state made legal decisions under subjective intentions. “When a statute is facially constitutional, a plaintiff cannot bring a free-speech challenge by claiming that the lawmakers who passed it acted with a constitutionally impermissible purpose,” the court's ruling states.

DeSantis had already warned Disney to withdraw its lawsuit for alleged political retaliation and understand that the company would no longer continue to enjoy the “special privileges” it previously had. This is in reference to Disney losing control over the special autonomous district it enjoyed in the past.

“All we want to do is treat everybody the same and let’s move forward (...)  I’m not fine with giving extraordinary privileges" to a company, he said, referring to the special area that Disney lost and had hoped to regain.

The conflict between Disney and DeSantis

The root of the conflict dates back to Disney's criticism of the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, which restricts classroom discussions of sexual orientation at certain levels of education.

According to Disney, the legislation “should never have passed.” "Our goal as a company is for this law to be struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that," said the entertainment giant.

Later, DeSantis and Florida's Republican legislature stripped the company of its autonomy over Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) which had given the company a level of authority similar to that of a county government and appointed a state board for the now-called Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD).

In response to this action, Disney sued the governor and board of directors for allegedly punishing the company for its political views, but the lawsuit did not proceed.

Florida government reacts to the court decision

"The days of Disney controlling its own government and being placed above the law are long gone. The federal court’s decision made it clear that Governor 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. In short — as long predicted, case dismissed,” said DeSantis press secretary Jeremy Redfern.