As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney continue their feud in court, a state judge has rejected Disney’s request to dismiss a lawsuit that could potentially strip the entertainment giant of its own special district.

Since striking a deal with state lawmakers over 50 years ago, the Walt Disney Company has been allowed to essentially govern itself within its own Orlando-area Reedy Creek Improvement District.

This district provides all the usual public services, has its own first responders, and can even levy extra taxes.

In 2022, Disney executives sought to prevent the codification of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act – a law that bars schools from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation in younger grade levels.

Florida Republicans shot back by announcing they would roll back Disney’s special tax breaks and self-governing status and recently implemented the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which replaced the Reedy Creek Improvement District and stripped Disney of its governing power over the board.

The new oversight board then filed a motion to void all previous “backroom deals” that Disney had with the Reedy Creek board, Reuters reported.

Disney’s request to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected by a Florida judge on Friday, according to Reuters. The ruling could be a blow to a separate Disney case against DeSantis, accusing him of “weaponizing” state government against the company.

A Disney representatives told Reuters that the Friday decision “has no bearing” on the federal lawsuit and the case will ultimately “vindicate Disney’s constitutional rights.”

“We are fully confident Disney will prevail in both the federal and state cases,” the representative added.

The federal lawsuit, filed in April, accuses DeSantis of turning state government against Disney after the company took issue with his education act, the New York Post reported. Meredith Ivey, the former acting secretary of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, is also named in the lawsuit.

DeSantis asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit on Monday, arguing that the governor is “entitled to legislative immunity,” the Post reported.

Disney, meanwhile, has requested that the trial be delayed until July 15, 2024, which is the first day of the Republican National Convention.

The federal case was initially being handled by Obama-appointed Judge Mark Walker but he recused himself after learning that “a relative within the third degree of relationship owns thirty shares of stock” in Disney, CNBC reported at the time.

Judge Allen Winsor, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, now presides over the case.

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