Supporters of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) have grown accustomed to the Sunshine State’s chief executive taking on the left’s woke agenda and succeeding, but his latest move against the Walt Disney Company seems to be the start of a long, hard legal battle.
Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID)this week issued a statement that, in part, suggested potential legal recourse against the state: “In light of the State of Florida’s pledge to the District’s bondholders, Reedy Creek expects to explore its options while continuing its present operation, including levying and collecting its ad valorem taxes and collecting its utility revenues, paying debt service on its ad valorem tax bonds and utility revenue bonds, complying with its bond covenants and operating and maintaining its properties.”
Disney’s special tax provision permitted them the ability to issue bonds as a self-governing body, and while the dissolution signed by DeSantis factors that in by transferring control to local governing bodies, and permits the reestablishment of a dissolved special district on or after the date of their conclusion, the argument presented suggests it will be damaging not only to RCID but to the residents therein based on what may be considered a retaliatory move.
Following Disney’s decision to adamantly oppose the Parental Rights in Education law enacted by DeSantis to ensure the content of school curriculum remained age-appropriate, the governor requested a special legislative session to review the status of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The district, established in 1967, permitted Disney self-governing powers in a special taxing district where it built the Walt Disney World Resort.
Monday on “The Megyn Kelly Show,” Charles C. W. Cooke of the National Review joined host Megyn Kelly to discuss the move she believes won’t hold up in court.
“I’m actually more concerned with what DeSantis is doing from a First Amendment perspective,” said Kelly, a practicing attorney before her television news career. “I actually think there is a very decent chance a court is going to strike this down as viewpoint discrimination by the government against a corporation, which is not lawful.”
“Again,” Kelly went on, clarifying that she didn’t oppose the objective of DeSantis’ move, “it doesn’t mean it’s the wrong strategic move, right? He’s punching the bully in the nose. Might have to go to the principal for it. Might get suspended. Doesn’t necessarily mean it was the wrong thing to do.”
Cooke echoed Kelly and noted, “I support the underlying bill, strongly, and I like the fact that DeSantis signed it and did so defiantly and told Disney to pound sand. I just think that making public policy worse in revenge for the politicking of a corporation is a really bad idea.”
“Maybe it has the First Amendment implications that you proposed,” Cooke said before citing a piece written by UCLA Professor Eugene Volokh which presents arguments that, from the author’s point of view, deflate that narrative. Whether that is the case or not, the senior writer raised a matter of ethics.
“Morally speaking they are retaliating. This is vengeful. This is retribution and it’s a really an unusual move for DeSantis who is very careful, he does his research and he doesn’t enter into this sort of rash Twitter-driven politics that we see so much of and I fear that here he has,” Cooke said.
Kelly, too, conceded that Volokh was usually correct on matters of free speech, but continued her case that because of statements DeSantis has made on the issue, “he’s made very clear this is in retaliation for [Disney’s] viewpoint.”
“He said specifically, ‘I’m just not comfortable having that type of agenda get special treatment in my state,’ talking about [Disney’s] position on the ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill,’ so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ and it’s wokeness,” Kelly added.
Noting her agreement with DeSantis on the principle of stopping Disney’s agenda, Kelly added, “I’m just worried because it seems to me the left – if there’s some newfound way of punishing corporations for their political views and usually that’s expressed through contributions – the left is going to do this every day of the week and twice on Sunday.”
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