TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Lawyers for Gov. Ron DeSantis are asking a federal judge to wait more than two years to start a trial in the administration’s longstanding legal fight with Disney, a period of time that would land them in court later of the 2024 presidential election. election.
Lawyers for DeSantis, who is running for president, said the discovery process in the case should be delayed for several reasons, including that they filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit this week.
In their motion, the lawyers argue that Disney does not have standing to sue the governor because he does not directly enforce the laws in question, and has legislative immunity that «protects» him from being sued for his role in crafting specific pieces of legislation. .
«Disney has grabbed headlines by suing the Governor, Disney, like many previous lawsuits that have challenged Florida law, has no basis to do so,» reads the motion filed Monday in US District Court. for the Northern District of Florida.
The DeSantis administration is also asking federal Judge Michael J. Frank to functionally freeze the federal case because there is a separate lawsuit filed by the DeSantis administration against Disney in state court, which it argues is the proper venue for such a legal challenge.
DeSantis’ legal team would like an August 2025 trial date in the federal case, while Disney lawyers have asked the judge for a July 2024 trial.
Disney sued DeSantis in April for what it said was a «targeted campaign of government retaliation.» It was the latest in a fight that has lasted more than a year, which began after the entertainment giant released a statement criticizing Florida’s so-called Don’t Say Gay bill, signed into law by DeSantis in 2022. discussion of general identity or sexual orientation in public school classrooms through third grade.
Over the next year, DeSantis hatched a plan to get the GOP-dominated Legislature to pass a bill that would allow him to appoint board members who oversee a special district of government that has a major impact on much of business operations of the Florida-based company. .
The federal lawsuit was filed shortly after the DeSantis-appointed board voted to void a deal approved by the previous board that would have allowed Disney to retain control of its operations even after the DeSantis-appointed board was installed.
The separate state lawsuit was filed in Orange County court, where Disney does much of its business. In it, the DeSantis-appointed board, called the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board, argued that the court should legally invalidate agreements approved by the old board to allow Disney to maintain control.
Last month, Disney filed a motion to dismiss that lawsuit, arguing that «the governor unleashed a campaign of retaliation, using the power of government as a weapon to punish Disney for its protected speech.»