By Douglas Soule
The friction between Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney could spark the nation’s next landmark free speech case.
Suing him in federal court, the theme park giant alleges DeSantis took retaliatory action after it spoke out against one of his policies.
In interviews, writings and at the podium, DeSantis has repeatedly connected the legislative crackdown on Disney with what he calls their “woke” criticism of his signature parents rights law. But at other times and in his legal arguments, he said those efforts were focused on fairness, putting Disney on “a level playing field with every other business in Florida.”
A recent survey by Florida Atlantic University shows there’s no public consensus on the battle, at least not in the state it’s waging in. There’s a partisan split, with 81% of surveyed Florida Republicans pro-DeSantis and 76% of Democrats siding with Disney. Of independents, 42.2% backed DeSantis’ and 41.8% were on Disney’s side.
Public opinion, though, is not judicial opinion. And legal experts interviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida say how the court rules could also send shockwaves across the United States, with big implications for corporate speech and how governments respond to it.