DeSantis Win: Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Florida’s Law to Dissolve Disney’s Special District

Joe Raedle; Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Joe Raedle; Chris Jackson/Getty Images

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) law to dissolve Disney’s special governing and tax district.

Three residents of Orange and Osceola counties claimed S.B. 4-C, the law that eliminates Disneys’ special tax district, threatens with higher taxes, limits free speech, and violates a contractual obligation.

William Sanchez, a Miami lawyer and Senate Democrat candidate, filed the suit last week.

U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga ruled there were many reasons to dismiss the lawsuit, including the lack of standing over state issues.

Anltonaga wrote that the residents “do not plausibly allege they have suffered any concrete injury as a result of the alleged violation of Disney’s First Amendment rights, and nothing in the Complaint shows Plaintiffs have a close relationship with Disney.”

The judge also dismissed claims that dissolving the Disney corporate carveout, otherwise known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, would limit free speech:

Far from it: Plaintiffs expressly allege that they “expect Disney and the State of Florida to litigate this matter for a significant period of time[.]” That fact alone warrants dismissal. See, e.g., Harris, 20 F.3d at 1124–25 (holding that case must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because plaintiff failed to show that non-parties whose First Amendment rights were allegedly violated faced hindrance in asserting their rights).

Another notable exception to the general principle that a party may not sue for violations of others’ constitutional rights applies in the First Amendment context. But that exception relaxes traditional standing requirements only when a litigant asserts a claim of First Amendment overbreadth. Plaintiffs assert no such claim here. They instead allege what is in essence a First Amendment retaliation claim on Disney’s behalf. And First Amendment retaliation claims do not qualify for watered-down third-party standing standards.

Altonaga also said that none of the plaintiff’s claims were “ripe” because the legislation does not take effect until July 2022.

In reaction to the ruling, Sanchez promised to refile another challenge on behalf of the plaintiffs by next week.

“This is just the beginning of the battle, as we are attempting to achieve justice for Florida taxpayers,” Sanchez said in a statement.

DeSantis and Florida state legislators pushed for the legislation to strip Disney of its special corporate carveout after the megacorporation opposed DeSantis’s Parental Rights in Education Act. This also comes as Disney promised to inject inject “many, many, many LGBTQIA characters in its stories.”

Ron DeSantis / Rumble

Gov. DeSantis vowed in late April that Floridians would not have to pay for Disney’s debt. He said that dissolving Disney’s carveout was in reaction to the megacompany injecting “pansexualism” into its programming for younger audiences and attacking Florida parents.

The case is Michael Foronda v. Ron DeSantis in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3


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