Press Release

Ballard Spahr, Former Elected Officials File Amici Curiae Brief in Florida First Amendment Case

August 8, 2023

Acting on behalf of a bipartisan group of former governors, legislators, senior government attorneys, and other officials, Ballard Spahr has filed an amici curiae brief in Disney’s First Amendment lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and several of his appointed officials.

The underlying case challenges the constitutionality of a new state statute that replaced the leadership of a special district that governs the 25,000 acres on which Walt Disney World Resort sits. Disney alleges that Gov. DeSantis passed the law in order to take away Disney’s ability to self-govern the site in retaliation for the company’s opposition to his “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

In the brief, the group of amici curiae—which includes two former Republican governors, three former Members of Congress, and 13 former senior government attorneys and officials—express their view that “Governor DeSantis’ and the Florida Legislature’s decision to single out [Disney] for retribution, based on its comments on an issue of public concern, is anathema to the First Amendment and severely damaging to the political, social, and economic fabric of the State.”

“When a public official’s words and actions devolve into actual, retaliatory harm targeting an ideological opponent, democracy is not well-served,” the brief continues.

Chuck Tobin, who leads Ballard Spahr’s nationally recognized Media and Entertainment Law Group, and Litigation Partner Joe Slaughter represent the amici curiae.

“Florida’s ongoing assault on cherished American values like the First Amendment right to freedom of speech cannot go unchallenged,” Mr. Tobin said. “It’s an honor to help this distinguished group speak out against those who would smother dissent.”

For media inquiries, please contact Will Ashenmacher at 612.371.5792.

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