Disney is suing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for what they claim was an illegal change to the agreement between the corporation and the state.
With its thriving Disney+ platform led by series like Andor and The Mandalorian, Disney has become one of the most powerful companies in the world. They are now using some of that power to fight back against one individual: Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis. According to a recent Hollywood Reporter article, Disney is suing DeSantis after he made what they are claiming are unlawful changes to an agreement between the corporation and Florida’s government.
Disney claims that Governor Ron DeSantis illegally voided an agreement in what they believe was a “retaliation for Disney’s political speech” after the company came out as opposed to some of what DeSantis’ critics call his anti-LGBTQ agenda. The company cited that the move “jeopardizes its economic future” in Florida and “violates its constitutional rights.” They see this action as their way 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.”
Disney representatives said the “last strike” was when Ron DeSantis’ State’s oversight board shot down an agreement that would negatively impact billions of Disney’s investment dollars and thousands of jobs. They assert that they are protected under the First Amendment, and that “In America, the government cannot punish you for speaking your mind.”
The issue comes from negotiations surrounding the creation of a new oversight board appointed by Ron DeSantis to oversee the development of what was formerly known as Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. Disney had previously had a 30-year agreement with the government that saw the company requiring their approval for any new theme parks developed in the area and other changes to Disney’s property. It also granted the Marvel Cinematic Universe owner an exemption to conduct its own safety inspections for rides.
The negotiations see the Ron DeSantis’ government pushing forward in attempts at regaining authority over Walt Disney World and the surrounding area, and negotiations also discussed changes such as requiring warnings in Disney hotels about human trafficking, creating more affordable housing for employees, and banning masking mandates. Florida government officials are also investigating the company for criminal fraud and alleged ethical violations.
When Ron DeSantis and the oversight board resolved to nullify the longstanding agreement, Disney filed a complaint the same day. DeSantis has also mentioned the desire to develop the 24,000-acre parcel of land in dispute in the Orlando area by building another amusement park, a prison, or a state park.
The dispute comes at a political moment where Florida and other conservative states have enacted a wave of what many consider anti-LGBTQ+ and women’s rights legislation across the country after the overturning of the longstanding federal precedents set by Roe v. Wade. In the case of Ron DeSantis and Florida’s government, this has meant a wave or repeals and shifts in legal precedents, many of which have impacted the rights of people across the state.
In some ways, Disney is just a large corporation that is often negatively impacted by social issues like the recent rating’s bombing of Brie Larson‘s The Marvels largely in part due to the actress’s views on feminism and is protecting its assets like any other would. Hopefully, it leads to some insight into governmental processes and protection for individuals who do not have the financial capacity to advocate for their own rights at the same level.