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Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis seeks to remove judge overseeing Disney lawsuit

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is attempting to disqualify the federal judge overseeing a lawsuit filed against him by the Walt Disney Company, a court filing indicates. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
1 of 2 | Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is attempting to disqualify the federal judge overseeing a lawsuit filed against him by the Walt Disney Company, a court filing indicates. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

May 20 (UPI) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is attempting to disqualify the federal judge overseeing a lawsuit filed against him by the Walt Disney Company, a new court filing indicated.

The Republican governor's lawyers filed the motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, asking to have Judge Mark Walker removed from the lawsuit.

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The motion accuses Walker, chief judge of the federal court's Northern District of Florida, of exhibiting a bias.

Disney filed suit against the Florida governor last month, accusing him of unconstitutional political retaliation against the California-based entertainment giant.

Disney has publicly disagreed with Florida's so-called "Don't Say Gay" legislation, kicking off a back-and-forth between the company and DeSantis.

In the filing, DeSantis' team points to previous comments made in open court by Walker that could "imply he has prejudged the retaliation in question."

"Because that question is now before this Court, and because that question involves highly publicized matters of great interest to Florida's citizens, the Court should disqualify itself to prevent even the appearance of impropriety," they argued.

DeSantis pointed to two separate incidents where Walker mentioned Disney's previous status as a special district in Florida. The governor this year signed a bill removing Disney's autonomy over the land covering its Disney World resort in Orlando.

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The company has not publicly commented on the latest legal step from DeSantis.

Its lawsuit contends DeSantis engaged in "a relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain state officials."

This week Disney pulling the plug on a new employee campus planned for Orlando, which would have cost around $1 billion and provided as many as 2,000 jobs for the state.

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