Thursday, June 01, 2023 |
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Florida Gov. Ronald Dion DeSantis — who styles himself a friend of freedom, including the right of corporations to express their political beliefs — has cast those principles into a Space Mountain black hole. Because Disney had the temerity to disagree with DeSantis politically, it became the target of his withering government attack.
The compelling complaint filed Wednesday in federal court lays this bare, asserting: “It is a clear violation of Disney’s federal constitutional rights — under the Contracts Clause, the Takings Clause, the Due Process Clause and the First Amendment — for the State to inflict a concerted campaign of retaliation because the Company expressed an opinion with which the government disagreed.”
DeSantis, who got his law degree from Harvard, should see the merits of Disney’s case and stand down. Instead, he keeps digging, likely because a culture crusade, however contrary to the Constitution, plays well at the partisan political box office.
The recent history between Disney and DeSantis tracks back to 2021, when DeSantis signed a clunky bill designed to punish social media companies for allegedly mistreating conservatives.
It contained a special carveout for the Mouse House — one DeSantis’ own staff helped craft.
DeSantis must have thought Disney owed him, because he couldn’t accept the company exercising free will. First, in the summer of 2021, Disney required its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19; that fall, the governor announced he would impose fines against companies with worker vaccine mandates.
Then, last March, Florida passed a bill barring public school teachers from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K to 3. When Disney objected to the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, DeSantis pressed the Legislature to yank the theme park’s special district, in place for more than 50 years — singling out one company that had crossed him.
The idiotic law failed to properly account the shifting of $1 billion in debt onto Florida taxpayers — and the tangled legislative and regulatory cleanup has made matters worse.
He’s a small governor after all. A small, small governor.