Claiming bias, Gov. DeSantis wants a new judge on the bench for Disney federal lawsuit

DeSantis Versus Disney
The Governor argued the judge’s comments 'reasonably imply that the Court has prejudged the retaliation question here.'

Gov. Ron DeSantis is fighting to get a new judge on the bench for a case stemming from Disney’s federal lawsuit against the Governor.

DeSantis filed a motion to disqualify Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, arguing “the Court’s impartiality in this matter might reasonably be questioned.”

Walker, whose office declined to comment Friday, has previously ruled against DeSantis, including  when he partially blocked the “Stop WOKE Act” last year from taking effect at Florida’s public universities.

Walker has been assigned as the judge overseeing the federal complaint Disney filed against DeSantis, the Governor-appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board and others last month in U.S. District Court.

Disney accused DeSantis of targeting the company for speaking out against last year’s “Parental Rights in Education” law, known by critics as “Don’t Say Gay.” In the federal lawsuit, Disney’s ammunition includes comments DeSantis and Republicans have publicly made, as well as the new legislation passed this year intending to add more state oversight on Disney.

Meanwhile, the tourism board countersued Disney in Orange Circuit Court this month. Disney filed a motion to dismiss that lawsuit this week.

In Friday’s court filing, DeSantis argued the Tallahassee judge twice made comments in unrelated lawsuits where Walker brought up Disney “as an example of state retaliation.”

“And then Disney is going to lose its status because — arguably, because they made a statement that run afoul — ran afoul of state policy of the controlling party,” Walker said at a June 2022 hearing, according to DeSantis’ court filing.

“At what point do you stack so many examples where punitive actions are taken if you don’t do what you are told that suddenly it no longer becomes conjectural and you pass that threshold so you can establish standing?”

DeSantis argued the judge’s comments “reasonably imply that the Court has prejudged the retaliation question here.”

“Because that question is now before this Court, and because that question involves highly publicized matters of great interest to Florida’s citizens, the Court should disqualify itself to prevent even the appearance of impropriety,” DeSantis’ filing argued.

The court filing comes at the end of a blockbuster week of Disney news in Florida.

Disney announced Thursday it was canceling the Imagineers’ move to Orlando, which would have brought more than 2,000 jobs to Florida, and permanently closing the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel at Disney World.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • PeterH

    May 19, 2023 at 6:44 pm

    Unconstitutional “judge shopping” is a Trump favorite pastime …….now practiced by Ron DeSantis.

  • Your Honor

    May 19, 2023 at 7:00 pm

    Great tactic, insult the court. /s

    • Dont Say FLA

      May 20, 2023 at 8:29 am

      It’s the normal legal loser’s strategy: When you can’t dispute facts, dispute the process.

  • Earl Pitts American

    May 19, 2023 at 8:13 pm

    Good evening America,
    Florida’s Premier Leftist tool Federal Judge Hinkle up in the Tallahassee district is getting old and it looks like Judge Walket senses his oppurtunitty to soon take Hinkles place as the Premier Leftist Tool Judge in Florida.
    For many Decades dook 4 brains lefties jockied for position to get their cases before Hinkle for a leftist slanted favorable rulling.
    Now Walker wants the honor of go to leftist tool judge in Florida. Walker senses the Disney thing may set him up for life as Florida’s go to leftist leaning Judge for decades to come.
    Of course Desantis knows all about what I, Earl Pitts “Florida’s Judicial Go To Guru” American, just shared with my many fans accross the planet.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts “Man Of Great Wisdom” American

  • Watcher

    May 19, 2023 at 8:50 pm

    Thank you Earl for laying the truth all out there like you did. You have a unique ability to cut through the BS and lay bare the truth. Son its almost like you have the wisdom of someone who has lived several lifetimes. I’ve been watching Florida for longer than most will believe and am quite impressed with your abilities young man.
    My advice son is stop telling everything you know or “they” will come after us.
    Just hold it back some son we are dealing with issues bigger than you or me.
    Thanks Earl,

  • Michael K

    May 19, 2023 at 11:21 pm

    DeSantis has solutions in search of problems and now wants to shop for judges in his pudding finger bought and sold pockets. Pathetic role model terrified of truth and real justice. I’m sure Casey is telling him what to do. According to Politico, she’s the brains and the pants.

    • Tom

      May 20, 2023 at 7:44 am

      If you look at their finances, she’s got all the money and he still has student debt from going to ‘woke’ colleges which probably explains why he so anti-everything now. Lady Macbeth meets Tomkinson’s Schooldays (from Ripping Yarns).

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 20, 2023 at 8:26 am

    Bias is an excuse for backing down from NEVER back down? Losers!

  • SteveHC

    May 20, 2023 at 4:54 pm

    DeSantis administration = a bunch of sore loser cry babies. Let’s pray that when he either drops out of or loses his run at the upcoming Presidential election that he and his legislative henchmen don’t try to eliminate Florida’s 2-consecutive-gubernatorial-terms limit.

Comments are closed.


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