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Disney narrows its lawsuit against DeSantis to focus on free speech

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(NEW YORK) — The Walt Disney Company narrowed the scope of its lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday to focus solely on its First Amendment claim that the governor politically retaliated against the company.

The lawsuit now focuses on the company’s claim that DeSantis and his allies allegedly retaliated against Disney for exercising its right to free speech under the First Amendment.

“A targeted campaign of government retaliation — orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech — now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights,” the lawsuit reads.

Last week, Disney, the parent company of ABC, asked to drop its other claims in the lawsuit, which centered on the company’s development contracts.

“We will continue to fight vigorously to defend these contracts, because these agreements will determine whether or not Disney can invest billions of dollars and generate thousands of new jobs in Florida,” a Disney spokesperson told ABC News in a statement.

The dispute between Disney and DeSantis started last year when Disney, under then-CEO Bob Chapek, opposed a new piece of legislation, titled the Parental Rights in Education Act, which sought to eliminate discussions of sexuality or gender identity in some K-12 classrooms. Critics denounced the legislation as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a name its supporters reject.

The state Legislature went on to pass a law, signed by DeSantis, to revoke Disney’s long-held special tax district in Florida.

In August, DeSantis said in a CNBC interview he had “moved on” from his battle with Disney, saying that Disney should “drop the lawsuit” it filed claiming a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” by his administration, which he has denied.

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