Federal judge dismisses Disney’s free speech lawsuit against Gov. DeSantis; company vows to press on
Image via AP.

Magic Kingdom Mickey Mouse Minnie Mouse
The Judge raised issues with Disney's standing in the case.

A federal Judge on Wednesday dismissed Disney’s free speech lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis, leaving the company’s remaining hopes of regaining control of the district that governs Walt Disney World to a separate state court challenge.

U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor in Tallahassee said in his decision that Disney lacked standing in its First Amendment lawsuit against the Republican Governor, the Secretary of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and DeSantis’ appointees to the Disney World governing district. The separate lawsuit is still pending in state court in Orlando.

Disney had argued that legislation signed by DeSantis and passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature transferring control of the Disney World governing district from Disney supporters to DeSantis appointees was in retaliation for the company publicly opposing the state’s so-called Don’t Say Gay law. That 2022 law banned classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades.

Disney supporters had run the district, which provides municipal services such as firefighting, planning and mosquito control, for more than five decades after the Legislature created it in 1967.

Winsor, who was appointed to the bench by President Donald Trump in 2019, said in his decision that when a law on its face is constitutional, plaintiffs can’t make free-speech claims challenging it because they believe lawmakers acted with unconstitutional motives.

“Because that is what Disney seeks here, its claim fails as a matter of law,” Winsor wrote.

Without directly saying it would appeal the decision, Disney said in a statement that it would “press forward with our case.”

“This is an important case with serious implications for the rule of law, and it will not end here,” the company said. “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.”

“I’m delighted that this lawsuit, which was nothing more than a distraction, is now behind us. Our board and the district will now continue to make the appropriate changes to operate and function as an independent government agency to promote transparency and accountability while bringing more prosperity to more people in Florida,” said Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Chairman Martin Garcia.

“We are pleased that the district court applied clear precedent to reject Disney’s claim that it, rather Florida’s Legislature and her Governor, gets to choose the officials who will serve on its local government body. Disney may own the land in the district, but it does not own the government,” said Charles Cooper, Chairman of Cooper & Kirk.


Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • Dangerous Florida, Now Without Schools

    January 31, 2024 at 3:31 pm

    Time to defund craven florida from the Federal budget.

  • PeterH

    January 31, 2024 at 3:42 pm

    Disney will certainly appeal this ruling keeping Florida taxpayers on the hook for additional legal expenses.

  • Joe

    January 31, 2024 at 3:44 pm

    Big surprise, a Trump-appointed UF Law judge rules for Tiny D and his never-ending culture war BS.

  • Sally B

    January 31, 2024 at 4:21 pm

    It is long past time that the Florida Legislature, led by Governor Ron DeSantis, create a level-playing field for Universal Studios, SeaWorld, et al., versus Disney by stripping Disney of its own undemocratic local government to throw off the albatross and shackles of corporatism and crony capitalism. Congratulations for the people of the free state of Florida, the Florida Legislature, and America’s Governor.

    • Judy B

      February 2, 2024 at 7:10 am

      “Undemocratic local government?” Disneys Reedy Creek was the definition of self-determination and freedom. It paid for itself and made its own decision. Now it’s being managed by a political board which will prove to be a further drain on tax dollars and incompetent politicians doing jobs they aren’t qualified to do. Pretty much everything that leads to waste. You might think this is a win for freedom now but just remember that Disney has deep pockets for big lobbying and DeSantis won’t be gov forever. When the tides turn, as they always do, it will be Floridians left holding a bill. They should have left it up to private business to manage their own affairs and their own bills.

  • Sally B

    January 31, 2024 at 4:41 pm

    Florida Politics is a biased publication. It’s good for public discourse that mostly politicos and trolls read it. Today is a victory not only for the people of the free state of Florida, the Florida Legislature, and America’s Governor; but it is also a victory over corporatism and crony capitalism. It’s long overdue that Disney be stripped of its own visually corporately controlled, undemocratic local government. Disney should have a level-playing field with Universal, SeaWorld, and other amusement parks.

    • Real Democracy

      January 31, 2024 at 7:28 pm

      You are wrong

      It’s not a level playing field if the governor gets to pick the officials.

      Why don’t the local residents select the officials?

      Disney is the local resident- shouldnt they have a say?

  • Phil Morton

    January 31, 2024 at 5:20 pm

    Trump judge. Let’s see what happens when the case is before a real judge.

  • TD

    January 31, 2024 at 5:39 pm

    Here to claim the salty tears and apologies AGAIN. I was right AGAIN. I am UNDEFEATED in my forecasts regarding the lack of merit of Disney’s lawsuits and counterclaims. Check the receipts on this site.
    Listen in AGAIN as I say I TOLD YOU SO, AGAIN, maybe you’ll get it this time.

  • rick whitaker

    February 1, 2024 at 3:06 pm

    sally b, are you ron desantis’ crazy aunt? disney is not on the same level as those other greedy corporations you mentioned. people come to florida to visit disney, not ” other amusement parks” . desantis will go to his grave as the bad guy that fu_cked with disney. personally, i hate all amusement parks. florida is a hell hole. desantis is the ruler of that hellhole. you live there, i don’t. i moved to another state.

    • Sally B

      February 2, 2024 at 12:13 am

      Congratulations! Godspeed to you and others like you. Any Floridians who dislike living here should be free to leave. It is noteworthy that Florida continues to lead our country in net in-migration #1. Please try not to be sexist in your comments and absolutely no microaggressions.

    • Sally B

      February 2, 2024 at 12:16 am

      Ricky, Ricky, please don’t meltdown from manifesting your sexism and microaggressions.

      • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" Ameriecan

        February 3, 2024 at 6:26 pm

        Good evening Sally,
        Rick used to work for me following up my Sage Wisdom with wacky leftist followup comments cleverly designed to make me, Earl Pitts American, look even more Sage and Wise.
        Then “Rick’s People” killed all those Jews on “The October 7th Massacre”.
        Rick lost his mind on that day and I had to let him go from my employment.
        Ricks trying to hook up with the other Sage Patriot Poster here, “Impeach Biden” but I dont think “Impeach Biden” is going to hire him.
        Stay away from Rick, Beloved Sally B, hes trouble with A Capital “T”.
        Thank you Beloved Sally B.,
        Earl Pitts American

  • jeansolomon

    February 7, 2024 at 10:40 am

    well, SALLY, are you aware that Desantis just gave U NIVERSAL the same deal he took from Disney. it will be intersting how many ;friends of RON’ are on the pay roll of UNIVERSAL, will his’FRIEND’ mrs. Ziegler get a job there?..the real problem RON has with DISNEY probably refused to pay to play…

Comments are closed.


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