Disney Leans On The First Amendment In Battle With Gina Carano, Elon Musk: Will The Force Be Strong For Media Giant?

Zinger Key Points
  • A lawsuit against Disney by a former Star Wars actress is being backed by Elon Musk.
  • Disney is seeking to have the lawsuit thrown out, arguing for its usage of First Amendment rights.

Media giant Walt Disney Co DIS counts the Star Wars franchise as one of its most popular brands and revenue sources, since acquiring the company in 2012.

Disney now faces a lawsuit over the firing of a Star Wars actress, which has generated plenty of buzz thanks to the support for the actress from billionaire Elon Musk.

What Happened: Actress and former MMA star Gina Carano appeared in seven episodes of "The Mandalorian" on the Disney+ streaming platform before being let go by Disney.

Playing the role of Cara Dune, Carano was one of the main co-stars of the Star Wars series.

Posts on social media got Carano into hot water and saw her retaliated against by Disney according to the actress.

Earlier this week, Disney filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit from Carano, arguing that it had a First Amendment right to let the actress go, as shared by Variety.

Disney said it has "a constitutional right not to associate its artistic expression with Carano's speech."

Carano made several controversial posts on social media including an Instagram post that compared being a conservative in the U.S. to being Jewish during the Holocaust.

"Because history is edited, most people today don't realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews," Carano previously wrote. "How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?"

Other controversial topics on social media by Carano included objections to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, 2020 election integrity and a lack of support for the LGBTQ+ community.

The Holocaust post was "the final straw" for Disney before it let go of the actress.

"Disney had enough," the motion to dismiss read.

Disney called the comments "abhorrent and unacceptable" at the time of her dismissal and said it had no plans to hire her back in the future.

Related Link: Bob Iger Answers Hot Topics Like Elon Musk, Box Office Bombs, Ron DeSantis And More: Here's What The Disney CEO Said

Why It's Important: Carano sued Disney and Lucasfilm for the firing and saw her lawsuit funded by Musk, the owner of social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Musk previously said he would pay legal bills for people who were fired over posts on the social media platform. Musk also has an ongoing battle against Disney and its CEO Bob Iger after the media company pulled advertising from X.


Carano sued Disney under a California law that makes retaliation against employees for their political activity illegal.

In its motion to dismiss, Disney argued that companies like entertainment and newspapers give it exception to what its employees said and even used a previous quote from one of Carano's lawyers, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh.

"Employees that speak must necessarily speak through their employees; and when an employee or prospective employee says things, even off the job, that would undermine the employer's message, the employer must be able to distance itself from the employee," Volokh said in 2022.

In her lawsuit, Carano has accused Disney of sexual discrimination, alleging the media company did not handle political commentary from male Star Wars actors Pedro Pascal and Mark Hamill in the same manner.

"The First Amendment protects Disney's decision to dissociate itself from some speech but not from the other, different speech," Disney's lawyers said.

If the motion to dismiss is not agreed by the court, a trial between Carano and Disney could be one of the most watched entertainment cases in years and come after Disney went through a lengthy battle against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, which was eventually settled.

DIS Price Action: Disney shares trade at $118.20 on Thursday versus a 52-week trading range of $78.73 to $123.74.

Read Next: Disney Analysts Bullish After Q1 Earnings: ‘The Magic’s Back’

Photo: Gia Carano as Cara Dune in “The Mandalorian,” courtesy Disney+

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Posted In: EntertainmentLegalTop StoriesBob IgerElon MuskFirst AmendmentGia CaranoLucasfilmMandaloriansocial mediaStar WarstwitterX
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