For more than a year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been going at it with The Walt Disney Company. The governor did not like that Disney, and ex-CEO Bob Chapek, spoke out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill. It was a bill that the governor supported. That happened in March 2022. Since then, things have devolved, and the relationship between the two is at an all-time low. DeSantis has stripped Walt Disney World of its right to self-govern, and Disney is suing him for retaliating against them.
In addition to suing Governor DeSantis, Disney is also suing the new board — which was hand-picked by the governor — to oversee the former Reedy Creek Improvement District. The lawsuits are being overseen by federal judge Mark Wallace. Disney filed their lawsuits back in late April, and since then, DeSantis’ legal team has asked the judge to recuse himself from the case. DeSantis’ team said that they worry the judge will not be able to be impartial in the case. They cited two statements made by the judge last year.
Disney filed their lawsuits in both state and federal courts. They have since asked that their state court cases be dismissed, since the federal ones take priority. However, they are not the only ones seeking dismissals.
According to legal paperwork filed by Mr. DeSantis and his team, they intend to ask the judge to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Disney. The paperwork did not state what grounds DeSantis was going to use to ask for the dismissal. His legal counsel is planning on filing the motion to dismiss on June 26. Disney will then have until July 26 to respond to the dismissal motion. DeSantis will then have until August 9 to respond to Disney.
Even though dates for filings have been given, and a schedule has been presented, Federal Judge Wallace has said that nothing can move forward until the recusal motion is decided. The judge is able to decide whether he is impartial or not. Judge Wallace can also turn the motion over to another judge, who can look at the evidence and decide if Judge Wallace will be able to maintain impartiality. We do not know when that matter will be decided.
DeSantis has been traveling around the country, ahead of his presidential candidacy announcement. During his speeches, the topic of Disney frequently comes up. Mr. DeSantis has repeatedly said his fight with Disney began when they spoke out against the Parental Rights Bill. He has even said that going after Disney was never on his radar before that.
Because the governor keeps talking about the lawsuit and seemingly admitting that it has to do with Disney speaking out against him, Disney has amended its lawsuit to include the governor’s statements. The company has also included passages from a book that DeSantis wrote that was recently published. DeSantis has said that Disney’s lawsuit is a political one.