Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has made Walt Disney his top target in his so-called “war on woke.” Basically, the Mouse House stands as a proxy for the right-wing candidate for the Republican nomination for president for every company that takes positions that challenge DeSantis’ world views.
Walt Disney (DIS) – Get Free Report is not the only company operating in Florida that embraces causes like LGBTQ+ rights which DeSantis considers woke. It is, however, the only company in the Sunshine State which had its CEO condemn a specific piece of DeSantis’ legislation.
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Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek took a public stand on DeSantis’ so-called “Don’t say gay” legislation after his employees pushed back on the company’s lack of response. Chapek was in an impossible position because while he wanted to support his employees, he also did not want to take a political stand that alienated part of its potential customer base.
DeSantis, of course, could have recognized the situation for what it was — a CEO taking a stand because he felt he had to — released a statement condemning what Chapek said, and then moved on. Instead, the governor has opted to go to war with his state’s largest single-site employer and its biggest tourism draw.
To make his political point, DeSantis took over the former Reedy Creek Improvement District, replacing it with a board of his hand-picked cronies. Disney countered that by essentially locking in its next 100 years of development plans before DeSantis’ team took over.
That back and forth has led to a number of lawsuits and a major decision has been made in a case Disney has brought against the governor.
DeSantis has made Disney his top target, despite the company’s business standing in his state.
DeSantis Gets a Legal Win Over Disney
DeSantis asked for Judge Mark E. Walker to disqualify himself in Disney’s case because of comments the judge made previously in unrelated cases. Walker did not agree with the governor’s argument and denied his motion to remove himself from the case.
That wasn’t the end, however, as Walker ultimately disqualified himself from overseeing the case because a family member owns a small amount of Disney stock. That’s a technicality, but in the end, DeSantis got what he wanted.
Walker explained his decision in a lengthy court document:
“When a judge becomes aware that a third-degree relative has a financial
interest that may be affected by the outcome of a proceeding, such as the case here, that judge must determine whether the third-degree relative’s financial interest
‘could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.’ An affirmative
answer to that question requires disqualification from the proceeding,” he wrote.
The size or dollar amount of the third-degree relative’s financial interest is irrelevant, according to the law, so Walker disqualified himself.
Walker did condemn DeSantis’ original motion in his written remarks.
“Without exploring all the other defects in the motion, for the reasons noted above and as thoughtfully outlined in Plaintiff’s response, Defendants’ motion is wholly without merit. In fact, I find the motion is nothing more than rank judge-shopping. Sadly, this practice has become all too common in this district,” he wrote.
But, while Walker condemned the idea of judge shopping, DeSantis in the end gets exactly what he wanted.
Disney’s lawsuit against the Florida governor will now be heard by Republican Judge Allen C. Winsor, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2019. Walker was named to the court by former President Barack Obama.
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