Disney Sues Gov. Ron DeSantis, State Officials Over Alleged Retaliation for Political Views
The Walt Disney Co. is suing Florida state officials, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, in federal court for allegedly retaliating against the company for expressing a political viewpoint. Disney claims that the state is violating its constitutional rights, including the Contracts Clause, the Takings Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the First Amendment.
The lawsuit, filed by Disney on Wednesday, alleges that lawmakers openly admitted that the bill dissolving RCID was meant to punish Disney for opposing House Bill 1557. Further, the lawsuit alleges that DeSantis and other lawmakers made public statements expressing their disdain for Disney’s political stance and warning other corporations against expressing similar “woke” viewpoints.
The dispute began in March 2022 when Disney publicly commented against HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education Act, also commonly referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. Disney wanted to overturn the legislation.
Desantis and the state dissolved the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) and replaced it with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD), which is controlled by the Governor. In response to the state’s actions, Disney, before the CFTOD took over, entered into two long-term land use contracts with RCID in order to secure future development. The state then declared these contracts void, which Disney argues is unconstitutional.
Disney’s lawsuit requests that the State of Florida be prohibited from retaliating against the company. Disney alleges that when CFTOD voided the contracts they violated the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Disney also alleges that the Legislative Declaration takes Disney’s property without providing just compensation, in violation of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Disney also says the state of Florida is retaliating against the company for expressing a political viewpoint and violating its constitutional rights. Further, Disney argues that the Contracts Clause protects its property rights and that the Legislative Declaration is unenforceable. Disney argues that the state cannot demonstrate a rational basis for canceling the contracts and that the Legislative Declaration is arbitrary and irrational.
Disney is requesting a declaratory judgment that the Legislative Declaration, Senate Bill 4C, and House Bill 9B are unconstitutional and unenforceable.