DeSantis scores legal victory in battle with House of Mouse over special tax district

On Tuesday, a federal judge struck down a lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Last week a Florida Senate candidate, Democrat William Sanchez, filed a lawsuit against the governor on behalf of three state residents claiming that when he’d signed a bill in April eliminating Disney’s special tax status, he’d violated a spate of laws.

“The complaint claimed Florida was violating a state law called the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, as well as a contractual obligation with Reedy Creek’s bondholders and Disney’s First Amendment rights,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.

But in a ruling made Tuesday, a federal judge said otherwise.

“In her order, U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote that the suit was dismissed for several reasons, including the federal court’s lack of standing over state issues and because the law does not go into effect until July 2023,” as reported by the Sentinel.

“Altonaga wrote that the three plaintiffs, Michael and Edward Foronda of Kissimmee and Vivian Gorsky of Orange County, ‘do not plausibly allege they have suffered any concrete injury as a result of the alleged violation of Disney’s First Amendment rights, and nothing in the Complaint shows Plaintiffs have a close relationship with Disney.'”

She reportedly added that the Disney bill “does not apply to them, they do not allege direct harm as a result of the challenged law, and they do not plausibly allege any credible threat of direct harm in the future.”

In a statement issued afterward, Sanchez vowed to refile the case next week, claiming that he’s attempting to “achieve justice” for Florida taxpayers.

“This is just the beginning of the battle, as we are attempting to achieve justice for Florida taxpayers,” he said.

But it’s not clear Florida taxpayers agree with him and his clients.

DeSantis eliminated Disney’s special tax status after it tried to interfere in the state’s politics by openly lobbying against the Parental Rights in Education bill.

Yet polling data has consistently shown that most Floridians, including Democrats, support the bill.

To be fair, support for the bill doesn’t necessarily translate to support for punishing Disney over its decision to lobby against the bill.

And indeed, national polling has indicated that a majority of Republicans and Democrats are troubled by DeSantis’ war on Disney.

“A bipartisan majority of U.S. adults oppose laws that go after companies for their political positions and the politicians who support them, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found, indicating efforts by Florida lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to target Disney … are likely broadly unpopular—including even among many Republicans,” Forbes reported late last month.

But the law is the law nevertheless, and thus far the governor has been successful in keeping his law intact. What remains to be seen is whether Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley will be just as successful with the legislation that he’s now pushing.

“Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is introducing legislation that would strip the Walt Disney Company of special copyright protections granted to the corporation by Congress, while also limiting the length of new copyrights,” Fox News reported Tuesday.

“The ‘Copyright Clause Restoration Act of 2022’ would cap the length of copyrights given corporations by Congress to 56 years and retroactively implement this change on companies, including Walt Disney.”

“The age of Republican handouts to big business is over. Thanks to special copyright protections from Congress, woke corporations like Disney have earned billions while increasingly pandering to woke activists. It’s time to take away Disney’s special privileges and open up a new era of creativity and innovation,” the senator said in a statement to Fox News.

Congress has reportedly been extending copyright protections to major companies for up to 120 years at a time.

“Instead of issuing copyright protections to create enough monopoly protection in order to foster innovation, companies are getting handouts from Congress for a much longer period than needed,” Fox News notes.

These moves by DeSantis and Hawley appear to cement in stone the growing consensus that the Republican Party is no longer the party of big corporations and wealthy elites. That honor — or dishonor, some would argue — now goes to the Democrat Party.

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Vivek Saxena

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