Disney wants to narrow a federal lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis to just free speech grounds, alleging the Florida governor retaliated against the company for speaking out against a ban on children in lower grades. State laws on sexual orientation and gender identity are taught in the classroom. .
Disney on Friday asked a federal judge to allow the filing of an amended complaint that focuses on First Amendment claims and leaves questions about the legality of the company’s agreement with the Disney World management area to another state court action. Disney supporter. The agreements were signed before DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature took over government agencies in the spring.
The agreements transfer control of the theme park resort’s design and construction from DeSantis’ newly appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) board member to Disney. DeSantis appointees are now challenging the legality of those agreements in state court. DeSantis is not a party to the state court suit.
Disney’s motion to federal court states that “Disney faces specific, imminent, and continuing harm as a result of the new powers and composition of CFTOD, which are used to punish Disney for expressing political views.”
Disney said the amended indictment will challenge “this unconstitutional weaponization by the government, seeking a declaratory judgment that will allow Disney to pursue its future in Florida independent of the ongoing retaliation by the CFTOD Commission.” “.
U.S. District Judge Alan Windsor on Friday denied Disney’s motion to narrow the scope because procedural rules require Disney attorneys to consult with DeSantis’ attorneys before making such a request. The judge said Disney could reopen the request after complying with court rules. An email seeking comment was sent to Disney attorneys on Sunday.
Disney’s plea, along with other recent motions in the state case, show how the fortunes of the two lawsuits are intertwined, especially after Disney counterclaimed in the state case, asserting many of the same claims made in the federal case . case. Disney filed a countersuit after a state court judge denied Disney’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.
The battle between DeSantis and Disney began last year when the company faced intense internal and external pressure to speak out against a state law banning the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in lower grade classrooms, a policy Critics call it “Don’t Talk Gay.”
As punishment, DeSantis took over the district through legislation passed by Florida lawmakers and appointed a new board of supervisors to oversee municipal services for the sprawling theme park and hotel. But the new supervisor’s powers are limited by the company’s agreement with its predecessor.
In response, DeSantis and Florida lawmakers passed legislation to repeal the agreements.