Gov. Ron DeSantis has seen fit to attack Mickey Moue and Disney World. He then found a way to revoke their unusual status of essentially operating their own county government over a wide swath of Florida land. Disney World responded by filing a lawsuit accusing Gov. DeSantis of violating free speech rights for a corporation. Yes, corporations, like persons have free speech protections.

So, what is the legal basis for Disney World’s lawsuit? Disney alleges five different causes of action:

  • Desantis’ new oversight board violates the two contracts Disney signed decades ago. That means the state government violated the contracts clause without an “important governmental interest.”
  • Abrogating the two contracts from decades ago amounts to a “taking” in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • That same abrogation violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because the taking was “arbitrary and irrational.”
  • The new oversight board amounts to “retaliatory interference” with Disney’s decades old agreements and, therefore, chills Disney’s First Amendment rights.
  • Changes in the oversight board constitute another violation of Disney’s 1st Amendment rights.

There is no doubt Gov. DeSantis took this actions in response to Disney’s opposition to his so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The hardest part of most free speech lawsuits is essentially already shown. It will be interesting to see how the Florida government defends itself in this suit. See ABA Bar Journal report here for more information.