It is delightful watching Florida failson Ron DeSantis’s political aspirations flame out so spectacularly. Even before the klieg lights of an official presidential campaign, he’s demonstrated that he’s both unserious and unlikable — plus getting saddled with the Tiny D moniker and forcing us all to contemplate him eating pudding with his hands. But perhaps the most egregiously self-inflicted dick-kicking is the debacle of DeSantis’s war on Walt Disney.
After Disney offered mild criticism of the governor’s filthy “Don’t Say Gay” bill that made it illegal to acknowledge the existence of gay people in schools, DeSantis vowed to take revenge on the company.
“I think they crossed the line,” he said at a press conference the next day. “We’re going to make sure we’re fighting back when people are threatening our parents and threatening our kids.”
Now, just as it’s hard to prove actual malice in a defamation case (hey, Fox!), it is very hard to establish someone’s subjective motivation in court. And furthermore, there’s a strong presumption in favor of legislative regularity — that is, courts will assume that legislators are acting in good faith when they pass laws. A politician would have to be an absolute fucking idiot to tell a reporter, “I though it was a mistake for Disney to get involved and I told them, ‘You shouldn’t get involved, it’s not going to work out well for you.”
Only a moron would write in the Wall Street Journal: “When corporations try to use their economic power to advance a woke agenda, they become political, and not merely economic, actors. In such an environment, reflexively deferring to big business effectively surrenders the political battlefield to the militant left. […] Leaders must stand up and fight back when big corporations make the mistake, as Disney did, of using their economic might to advance a political agenda. We are making Florida the state where the economy flourishes because we are the state where woke goes to die.”
And if we might quote Disney’s very good lawyers, only someone drunk on power would surround himself with sycophants so singularly dedicated to saying the quiet part out loud:
Senator Joe Gruters said, “Disney is learning lessons and paying the political price of jumping out there on an issue.”
The House bill’s sponsor, Representative [Randy] Fine, proudly confirmed that the Legislature had “looked at special districts” only because “Disney kicked the hornet’s nest” by expressing a disfavored political viewpoint. “What changed,” he said, was “bringing California values to Florida.”
Christina Pushaw, then Governor DeSantis’s press secretary, warned corporations that might consider expressing disfavored viewpoints, “Go woke, go broke.”
Senator [Doug] Broxson was explicit about the bill’s retaliatory intent: “We joined with the Governor in saying it was Disney’s decision to go from an apolitical, safe 25,000 acres, and try to be involved in public policy. […] We’re saying ‘you have changed the terms of our agreement, therefore we will put some authority around what you do.’ And I gladly join the Governor in doing that.”
Whodathunk that a party which mocks the Left for “safe spaces” would get so comfortable in the echo chamber of Fox News and its hill cousins OAN and Newsmax that it would forget that the rest of us can hear you when you confess that your intent is to violate the Constitution? Fitting, though, that it comes directly on the heels of Fox paying almost $800 million because its entire C-suite was messaging each other about the plan to feed the audience lies about election fraud in an effort to maintain market share.
After Disney and its very good lawyers had the outgoing board transfer much of its power to Disney, DeSantis once again promised vengeance.
“Come hell or high water we’re going to make sure that policy of Florida carries the day. And so they can keep trying to do things. But ultimately we’re going to win on every single issue involving Disney I can tell you that,” he told reporters. “That story’s not over yet. Buckle up. There’s going to be more coming down the pike.”
And indeed there was more, with incoming board members vowing to void the contract devolving power to the Walt Disney Company with approval from the Legislature. Yesterday, the new board — that is, the one whose members couldn’t be bothered to monitor public notices or attend their predecessors’ meetings where they signed that contract — met and passed a resolution declaring the contract void.
Within an hour, Disney filed a federal lawsuit seeking declaratory judgments that both of the laws passed by the Legislature regarding Disney’s special tax district are unconstitutional.
“There is no room for disagreement about what happened here: Disney expressed its opinion on state legislation and was then punished by the State for doing so,” they wrote, adding later, “This is as clear a case of retaliation as this Court is ever likely to see.”
As every lawyer predicted when the plan to magic away the contract was first floated (except for TinyD, who appears to have forgotten ConLaw), Disney alleges that the law violates the Contracts Clause, which provides that “No State shall … pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.” Similarly they allege violations of Due Process, the First Amendment, and the Takings Clause, since the state is in effect seizing private property for public use “without just compensation.”
It is just as hilariously unconstitutional as everyone said it was a year ago when DeSantis declared this fatwa on Mickey Mouse. Back then, the prevailing wisdom was that this goober would back down and not force Disney to confront him head on. But he didn’t … and so here we are.
And, PS: The case has been assigned to Judge Mark Walker, an Obama appointee who already struck down DeSantis’s “Stop Woke Act” DEI ban. EL-OH-EL.
[Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Inc. v. DeSantis, docket via Court Listener]
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