A federal judge has dismissed Disney's lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Secretary of the Department of Commerce and members of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board.

What You Need To Know

  • When Florida enacted the Parental Rights in Education Law — dubbed "Don't Say Gay" by opponents — Disney leadership came out against the legislation

  • In response, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed the Legislature to strip the company of its self-governing status under the Reedy Creek Improvement District

  • Disney sued DeSantis and others in federal court, saying the move violated its First Amendment rights

  • On Wednesday, a federal judge dismissed the case

The company had sued in April, claiming the state retaliated against it for publicly opposing the Parental Rights in Education law — called "Don't Say Gay" by opponents.

The governor responded at the time by pushing the Florida Legislature to strip Disney of its longtime self-governing power under the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

For more than 50 years, Disney had significant control over its land in Central Florida, but the Legislature dissolved Reedy Creek and replaced it with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board.

Disney claimed the move violated the company's First Amendment rights because the governor was punishing it for disagreeing with him.

But the judge has now thrown that lawsuit out.

The case against DeSantis and the commerce secretary were dismissed because the judge ruled Disney didn't have standing to sue them.

The judge dismissed the case against the CFTOB on the merits of the case, saying that Disney failed to state a claim.

"At the end of the day, under the law of this Circuit, 'courts shouldn’t look to a law’s legislative history to find an illegitimate motivation for an otherwise constitutional statute' ...  Because that is what Disney seeks here, its claim fails as a matter of law," the ruling said.

Disney was quick to respond to the news, and vowed to continue fighting the dissolution of Reedy Creek in the courts.

“This is an important case with serious implications for the rule of law, and it will not end here," a Disney spokesperson 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. We are determined to press forward with our case."

Below is a statement from Jeremy Redfern, DeSantis' press secretary:

"As stated by Governor DeSantis when he signed HB 9-B, the Corporate Kingdom is over. The days of Disney controlling its own government and being placed above the law are long gone. The federal court's decision made it clear that Governor DeSantis was correct: Disney is still just one of many corporations in the state, and they do not have a right to their own special government. In short — as long predicted, case dismissed."

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District released multiple statements in response to the ruling. 

"I'm delighted that this lawsuit, which was nothing more than a distraction, is now behind us," CFTOB District Chairman Martin Garcia said in the release. "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."

Cooper & Kirk Chairman Charles J. Cooper, who was hired to represent the CFTOB in the lawsuit, said in a statement, "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."

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