Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said Thursday that the Walt Disney Co.’s lawsuit against him and other Florida officials not only is “political” but lacks merit.
“They’ve been treated much different than Universal, SeaWorld, and all these other places [in Florida] and so they’re upset because they’re actually having to live by the same rules as everybody else,” DeSantis said of Disney at a press conference in Jerusalem during his visit to Israel.
“They don’t want to have to pay the same taxes as everybody else, and they want to be able to control things without proper oversight [when] every other Floridian has to have this type of oversight—all Florida businesses. So it’s a little bit much to be complaining about,” the governor said.
I don’t think the suit has merit. I think it’s political. I think they filed in Tallahassee for a reason, because they’re trying to generate some district court decision. But we’re very confident on the law.
The Walt Disney Co. filed a 77-page lawsuit Wednesday against the governor and other Florida officials in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, NBC News reported.
“Disney regrets that it has come to this,” Disney’s lawsuit says. “But having exhausted efforts to seek a resolution, the company is left with no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners from a relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain state officials.”
The lawsuit also says:
Disney finds itself in this regrettable position because it expressed a viewpoint the governor and his allies did not like. Disney wishes that things could have been resolved a different way. But Disney also knows that it is fortunate to have the resources to take a stand against the state’s retaliation—a stand smaller businesses and individuals might not be able to take when the state comes after them for expressing their own views. In America, the government cannot punish you for speaking your mind.
The district court issued a summons Thursday to DeSantis in connection with the Disney lawsuit, requiring an initial response within 21 days, Fox News reported.
The battle between DeSantis and Disney began over a year ago, on March 8, 2022, when the Florida Senate followed the Florida House in passing legislation to bar formal instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade. Opponents, including Disney and its LGBT employees, criticized the legislation as the “don’t say gay” bill, although it doesn’t include that phrase or the word gay.
In the months since, DeSantis and state lawmakers have moved to limit Disney’s historic autonomy in zoning and other legal matters on its extensive Florida property, which the company now calls “retaliation.”
Disney did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment on DeSantis’ remarks on the lawsuit in Jerusalem.
Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate, weighed in on Disney’s lawsuit Wednesday, inviting the entertainment giant to relocate to her state from Florida.
“As governor, I took a double-digit unemployment state and I turned it into an economic powerhouse,” Haley said on Fox News. “Businesses were my partners because if you take care of your businesses, you take care of your economy, your economy takes care of the people, and everyone wins. And so that’s the way we dealt with it. … South Carolina was a very anti-woke state.”
“It still is,” she added, “and if Disney would like to move their hundreds of thousands of jobs to South Carolina and bring the billions of dollars with them, I’ll let them know. I’ll be happy to meet them in South Carolina and introduce them to the governor and the legislature that would welcome it.”
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