Thursday, February 01, 2024

DeSantis Beats Disney Retaliation Suit

By John R. Byrne

Governor DeSantis scored a victory yesterday in the Northern District of Florida. Judge Allen Winsor dismissed Disney's First Amendment retaliation lawsuit against the Governor and the directors of the newly constituted Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board.

Winsor held that Disney lacked standing to sue DeSantis, reasoning that Disney's asserted injury--lack of control over the special improvement district--is not "redressable" because the Court cannot give Disney that control back. Windsor wrote: "That injury would exist whether or not the Governor controlled the board, meaning an injunction precluding the Governor from influencing the board would not redress Disney’s asserted injury."

As to the Board, including its Vice Chair Charbel Barakat, Winsor held that Disney failed to allege a cognizable First Amendment retaliation claim. In short, where, as here, a statute was facially constitutional, it is irrelevant what motivated its passage. Because the Florida legislature has the power to determine the structure of Florida's special improvement districts, Winsor explained, it may exercise that power however it sees fit (retaliatory motives or not). The Court acknowledged exceptions for statutes involving race, religion, or those designed to regulate speech. But this wasn't such a statute.

The order, which Disney plans to appeal, is excerpted below.

De 114_Disney Dismissal Order by John Byrne on Scribd

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Judge Winsor is proving himself to be a right-wing hack. He was reversed today (badly) in the Chinese land acquisition case by a unanimous Eleventh Circuit panel that included Judge Newsome.