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Disney Gets A Powerful New Ally In Fight With DeSantis

Ron DeSantis and Disney Characters
Credit: Flickr Matt Johnson/Disney

After suffering a loss in the first round of its court battle against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Walt Disney Company is looking for all the help it can get. And Disney may have just found a powerful ally who has a vested interest in seeing the First Amendment protected at all costs.

Ron DeSantis and Mickey Mouse

Credit: Flickr/Disney

Related: Judge Denies Disney’s Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit Brought by DeSantis’ Board

According to the Bradenton Herald, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed court documents arguing that U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor should reject a state request to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Disney. DeSantis and his lawyers argued that he had “absolute legislative immunity” and that Judge Winsor should dismiss the lawsuit brought by Disney against the governor and the Florida Legislature.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that provides free legal services, legal training and helps with Freedom of Information requests.

Lawyers for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press wrote in the documents given to the court:

Here, the government conduct in question targets a public company, but if the state of Florida and its officials succeed in defending their actions against Disney in this case, governments across the country may be emboldened to take action against not only public companies, but journalists, reporters, and the greater news media when they exercise their First Amendment freedoms. This is a significant First Amendment case. One of the world’s largest companies has alleged that a state openly acted to punish it for speaking out on issues of public concern — and the state has admitted as much.

disney world

Credit: Disney

Related: DeSantis Keeps Giving Disney Lawyers More Ammunition

Disney is accusing Governor DeSantis of infringing on its First Amendment rights when he and the Florida Legislature retaliated against Disney for speaking out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, known by its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill.

Gov Ron DeSantis reacted by stripping the Reedy Creek Improvement District of its ability to govern Disney World and replaced it with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

Just last week, a Florida judge ruled against Disney as it tried to have a suit brought by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District dismissed. The lawsuit sought to eliminate any agreements between Disney and the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Lawyers for Disney argued that laws passed by the Florida Legislature already made those agreements null and void. Disney now has 20 days to respond to the suit.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis / Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

The Reporters Committee sees the Disney/DeSantis feud as a First Amendment crisis that could eventually come to them. Should Florida Lawmakers not like something a reporter wrote, they could be subject to stricter laws restricting their ability to do their jobs.

No matter how this case is decided, it will make legal history, and the Walt Disney Co and Florida Gov Ron DeSantis will be forever linked.

We will continue to update this story at Disney Fanatic.

About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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