Disney's Lawsuit Against DeSantis Heats Up With New Judge, But Experts Are Already Seeing Trouble For The Florida Governor

Zinger Key Points
  • A DeSantis spokesperson believes there's no legal basis that permits Disney to remain autonomous.
  • One expert said there is a legal precedent that could help hint at the outcome of the case.

Some elements of this story were previously reported by Benzinga, and it has been updated.

While some experts believe Walt Disney Co DIS already has a solid case against Florida governor Ron DeSantis, a newly appointed judge overseeing the case could tilt the scales further in favor of the amusement park.

After learning a distant relative held 30 shares of Disney, Obama-appointed Judge Mark Walker recused himself from Disney’s lawsuit against the governor. Walker has been replaced by Judge Allen Winsor, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Donald Trump.

With Trump and DeSantis battling it out against each other in the lead-up to the Republican primaries, both Disney and the Florida governor would prefer a judge they feel is more likely to rule in their favor.

While some could surmise a Trump-appointed judge may be more sympathetic toward Disney, it should be noted that Winsor, on two occasions, has thrown out a lawsuit challenging DeSantis’ Parental Rights in Education Act, more commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, according to Forbes.

Regardless of who the judge is that’s overseeing the case, experts believe it’s DeSantis’ own comments that could come back to haunt him.

A Look Back At What The Experts Said

"There's a very good chance that [DeSantis] is going to pay for (his attacks) in a court of law," Ken Paulson, a professor at Middle Tennessee State University and director of its Free Speech Center, told Reuters.

Leslie Kendrick, director of the Center for the First Amendment at University of Virginia School of Law, agreed with Paulson, saying that the outcome of the case would hinge on why the governor was working to take control of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District.

"First Amendment law would say that is problematic if it's done because of the speaker's protected speech," Kendrick told Reuters.

DeSantis has repeatedly hit back at Disney for opposing his Education Act, by referring to the company as “woke Disney," according to Reuters.

A spokesperson for DeSantis told Reuters that they were not aware of any legal basis that permits any corporation to govern itself or maintain exclusive privileges. Though legal experts agreed, they said that Disney has a solid case against the governor if it can prove that DeSantis acted in retaliation, the outlet reported.

Kendrick noted that there is a legal precedent that could hint at the outcome of Disney's case, citing a 1934 case in which a Louisiana senator worked to impose a tax on 13 media publications after a student newspaper had published information that had been critical of the state's former governor. The publications sued, and the case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, where the justices struck down the law.

Read Next: As DeSantis Gains In Polls, A Look Back At When Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran Called Donald Trump 'A Genius'

Market News and Data brought to you by Benzinga APIs
Posted In: PoliticsGeneralFloridaICYMIRon DeSantis
Benzinga simplifies the market for smarter investing

Trade confidently with insights and alerts from analyst ratings, free reports and breaking news that affects the stocks you care about.

Join Now: Free!