Why free speech is 'at risk' if Disney loses lawsuit against Ron DeSantis: columnist

Why free speech is 'at risk' if Disney loses lawsuit against Ron DeSantis: columnist
Image via Creative Commons.

Republican governors used to argue against doing anything to alienate large corporations because they are "job creators." But in Florida, there has been considerable tension between GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis and one of the state's largest employers: Disney, which has filed a lawsuit against him.

Some conservative Republicans, including former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, have been highly critical of DeSantis for taking action against Disney. Under DeSantis, the special tax arrangement that Disney enjoyed in Florida was ended.

Never Trump conservative David French not only defends Disney's lawsuit in an op-ed published by The New York Times on April 30 — he argues that a Disney victory would also be a win for free speech.

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis signs six-week abortion ban into law

DeSantis believes that Disney was out of line when it openly criticized his policies. French vehemently disagrees.

"Laws are not holy writ," French argues, "and if the 1st Amendment protects anything, it protects our ability to object to the laws passed to govern our states and our nation."

The conservative journalist notes, however, that while DeSantis "should" lose the lawsuit, it remains to be seen whether or not he "will" lose it.

"Court outcomes are never completely certain, but this much is correct: A Disney defeat would represent a dangerous reversal in 1st Amendment jurisprudence and cast a pall of fear over private expression," French stresses. "In its complaint, Disney wrote, 'In America, the government cannot punish you for speaking your mind.' That is true now and will remain so if Disney wins its case. If Disney loses, on the other hand, America's first liberty will be at risk, and the culture wars will escalate out of control."

READ MORE: 'They’re those people': Vanity Fair rips the DeSantis’ Disney hypocrisy

Read David French's full New York Times op-ed at this link (subscription required).

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