A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed Disney’s lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, which claimed he had illegally retaliated against the entertainment giant for criticizing his “anti-woke” agenda.
The Republican governor and Disney — whose theme park in central Florida is one of the state’s largest employers — have been at loggerheads since 2022 when the company spoke out against a DeSantis-backed education bill concerning LGBTQ youth.
At the time, DeSantis was seen as a rising right-wing star who could potentially displace former president Donald Trump as the Republican 2024 standard-bearer.
After Disney’s criticism, DeSantis pushed the Republican-controlled legislature to revoke its special self-governance arrangement, which had allowed the city-sized theme park to run its own zoning and infrastructure projects.
Disney later sued DeSantis, characterizing his actions as a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” that violated the company’s right to free speech.
District Judge Allen Winsor, a Trump appointee, dismissed the lawsuit Wednesday on the grounds that the company lacked legal “standing” to take DeSantis to court.
Disney pledged to appeal the ruling, saying in a statement to AFP that the case has “serious implications for the rule of law.”
“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,” it said.
DeSantis recently suspended his presidential campaign, after it became clear that Republican voters still preferred Trump to be their nominee.