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Former Governors and Lawmakers Criticize DeSantis’ Retaliation Against Disney for Hurting Florida

A group of former high-level government officials, including governors, U.S. House members, and presidential administration officials, has filed a “friend of the court” brief in Disney’s federal lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The group is criticizing DeSantis’ takeover of Disney World’s governing district, stating that it is severely damaging the political, social, and economic fabric of the state. The lawsuit alleges that DeSantis violated Disney’s free speech rights by taking over the district after the company publicly opposed Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The group argues that DeSantis’ actions harm Florida economically, as they discourage businesses from operating in the state due to the fear of retaliation from the governor. They highlight Disney’s decision to cancel plans for a $1 billion campus in Orlando as an example of the negative impact of DeSantis’ actions.

The group consists of former Republican governors, U.S. House members, and officials from previous Democratic and Republican presidential administrations. They compare DeSantis’ takeover to autocratic actions taken in Russia and China and emphasize the corrosive effect it has on democracy.

In response, DeSantis’ office has not yet provided a comment. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has also filed a brief in support of Disney, arguing that a win by the Florida governor would set a dangerous precedent for governments to take action against journalists and media for exercising their First Amendment rights.

DeSantis, a candidate for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, is seeking a dismissal of Disney’s lawsuit, claiming legislative immunity and lack of standing on Disney’s part. The governor’s appointees took control of the Disney World district earlier this year after a yearlong feud between the company and DeSantis regarding the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The conflict culminated in Disney’s lawsuit against DeSantis and his appointees.

It remains to be seen how the court will rule in this legal battle between Disney and Governor DeSantis, but one thing is clear: the actions of political leaders can have far-reaching consequences, impacting not only businesses but also the democratic fabric of a state and the nation as a whole.

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