Gov. DeSantis proposes Disney trial schedule that starts in 2025, after elections
Attorneys for Gov. Ron DeSantis have asked that a trial involving Disney be postponed until the middle of 2025, well after the GOP presidential nomination race wraps up and voters have picked a winner in the November 2024 general election.
In a Tallahassee federal court filing Tuesday, attorneys for the Florida governor, who is seeking the Republican nomination, and his appointees to a board that governs Disney World outlined a proposed schedule that requests an Aug. 4, 2025, trial date.
Disney claims in its lawsuit that its free speech rights were violated by the takeover of its governing district in retaliation for opposing the so-called Don’t Say Gay legislation DeSantis championed. In the same filing, Disney proposed a July 15, 2024, trial date, which is around the same time as the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.
Both sides also disagreed about when a motion should be filed asking the judge to make a decision in favor of one side without a full trial. Disney proposed filing its motion for summary judgment at the start of April 2024, while DeSantis' attorneys said it should be exactly a year later, at the start of April 2025.
Earlier this week, DeSantis and his appointees to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, put it on hold or drop them as defendants.
The DeSantis appointees took over the Disney World governing board earlier this year following a yearlong feud between the company and DeSantis. The fight began last year after Disney, beset by significant pressure internally and externally, publicly opposed a state law banning classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades, a policy critics call Don’t Say Gay.
As punishment, DeSantis took over the district through legislation passed by the Republican-led Legislature and appointed a new board of supervisors to oversee municipal services for the sprawling theme parks and hotels. But before the new board came in, the company made agreements with previous oversight board members who were Disney supporters that stripped the new supervisors of their authority over design and construction.
In response, DeSantis and Florida lawmakers passed legislation that repealed those agreements.
Disney sued DeSantis and the five-member board, asking a federal judge to void the governor’s takeover of the theme park district, as well as the new oversight board’s actions, on the grounds that they violated the company’s free speech rights.
The board sued Disney in state court in an effort to maintain its control of construction and design at Disney World.