Already a member? Log In

Iger vs. DeSantis: The Next Steps

Disney v. DeSantis has just been assigned to Judge Walker, who once called the Stop WOKE Act “positively dystopian.”
Disney v. DeSantis has just been assigned to Judge Walker, who once called the Stop WOKE Act “positively dystopian.” Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images
Eriq Gardner
May 1, 2023

Last week, Disney sued Ron DeSantis over control of some very valuable swampland. The decision to go to court was predictable, of course: C.E.O. Bob Iger wants wide discretion on land use around Disney World, which covers some 43 square miles of Central Florida. And DeSantis, who says he doesn’t believe in “old-guard corporate Republicanism,” won’t stop yapping about “woke ideology.” Now comes a case over the voiding of Disney’s developmental contracts—a reflection, the company claims, of how DeSantis is waging a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain State officials.” (Here’s the complaint.)

One thing about Disney’s legal action that has escaped commentary—even though it’s likely to become the center of attention—is how O’Melveny litigation superstar Daniel Petrocelli has managed to file this case in federal court. Disney’s move makes tactical sense. The company, after all, surely wanted to bypass DeSantis-appointed judges, eventually at Florida’s Supreme Court. But can it?