Disney-DeSantis lawsuit transferred to Trump appointee

The Obama-appointed judge who was overseeing Disney’s lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recused himself Thursday over relative ownership of 30 Disney shares.

The case was transferred to Judge Allen C. Winsor, a President Trump appointee who previously upheld the state’s Parental Rights in Education law. This law, known to its detractors as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, is at the center of the Disney-DeSantis controversy.

Disney sued DeSantis in April, alleging the state engaged in a retaliatory campaign against the company for its opposition to the bill. The state canceled Disney’s Special Administrative District in Orlando, then reconstituted it under the control of five DeSantis appointees.

Disney argued that the state had sought to punish the company for protected speech and was seeking to reverse the state’s actions.

The trial was initially assigned to Judge Mark E. Walker, whom President Obama appointed to the bench in 2012.

DeSantis’ attorneys have sought to have Walker removed on the grounds that his previous comments in other cases show he may be biased against the governor. In one case, the judge noted that Disney might lose its special status because, “arguably,” it was “against state policy.”

Disney’s attorneys, led by Daniel Petrocelli, argued that was not enough to merit disqualification.

Walker agreed with Disney and denied DeSantis’ motion on Thursday, saying it was “totally baseless.”

“In fact, I find the motion to be nothing more than a shopping spree of rank judges,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, this practice has become too common in this neighborhood.”

However, Walker also noted that his parent owns Disney stock and therefore has an ethical duty to step aside.

The case will instead go to Winsor, who previously served as Florida’s solicitor general. In that role, he championed the state law banning same-sex marriage in 2014.

In February, Winsor dismissed a lawsuit brought by students and parents who alleged the Parental Rights in Education Act caused schools to remove LGBTQ-themed books from libraries and remove LGBTQ lyrics. school musicals.

This lawsuit was brought by Roberta Kaplan, who won a landmark gay rights case in the United States Supreme Court, US v. Windsor, in 2013. In the Florida case, she argued the law violated the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause, as well as Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education.

Winsor twice dismissed the lawsuit, each time ruling that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate that they had suffered enough harm to warrant an appearance in federal court.

“The plaintiffs have shown strident disagreement with the new law, and they have alleged facts to show that its very existence causes them deep pain and disappointment,” Winsor wrote. “But to claim federal jurisdiction, they have to allege more. Their failure to do so necessitates their dismissal.

Walker, the Obama-appointed judge, previously ruled against DeSantis in high-profile cases. In November, he blocked the entry into force of a law against “woke” ideology in state universities.

Walker also rolled back state voting restrictions last year, finding the state had a “horrific history of racial discrimination in voting.” DeSantis called the decision “performative partisanship” and appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned Walker’s decision earlier this year.

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