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Disney Takes Legal Action Against Florida for Constitutional Rights Violations

Disney has filed a lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, alleging that his administration engaged in a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” against the company’s “protected speech.” The lawsuit claims that DeSantis’ actions threaten Disney’s business operations and violate the company’s constitutional rights.

According to the lawsuit, Disney has attempted to seek a resolution to the ongoing feud between the company and DeSantis, but has been left with no choice but to file a lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners. The company alleges that certain state officials have used government power to retaliate against Disney for expressing a political viewpoint that is unpopular with them.

The dispute between Disney and DeSantis began when the company spoke out against the governor’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits public school teachers from discussing sexual orientation. In response, DeSantis removed power from the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which grants Disney self-governing abilities. This move has been widely viewed as punishment for the company’s political stance.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill to replace the board that oversees the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, with his own hand-picked members beginning in June. Recently, DeSantis ordered an investigation into the district’s current board members after they implemented a rule that could potentially make his new board powerless. The rule requires the board to give Disney the chance to review and comment on proposed property changes.

Disney acknowledges this change in its lawsuit, stating that it does not undermine the newly constituted Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. The company argues that the change wasn’t a surprise and claims that it held public forums before approving it. The lawsuit argues that the bills dissolving Disney’s special district and stripping it of its special tax status were enacted in retaliation for Disney’s speech, violating the First Amendment.

During the company’s annual shareholder meeting, Disney CEO Bob Iger called DeSantis’ actions “anti-Florida” and “anti-business,” suggesting that the governor wants “to punish a company for its exercise of a constitutional right.”

Disney’s lawsuit seeks to reverse the bills and asks the court to declare DeSantis’ moves “unlawful and unenforceable.” The Verge has reached out to both Disney and Governor DeSantis for comment but hasn’t received an immediate response.

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