Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) requested that the judge in Disney’s First Amendment case against him be dismissed, citing statements the judge has made in the past that the governor’s lawyers argue demonstrate a lack of impartiality.
DeSantis filed a motion on Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida to ask that Chief Judge Mark Walker be disqualified from the case. Disney sued DeSantis in April after months of sparring with the governor over the Parental Rights in Education Act, better known as “Don’t Say Gay,” and steps that DeSantis has taken to increase state influence over the company.
The motion alleges that Walker voluntarily referred to the dispute between DeSantis and Disney during two unrelated cases pertaining to issues of free speech and the possibility of retaliation.
“Those remarks—each derived from extrajudicial sources—were on the record, in open court, and could reasonably imply that the Court has prejudged the retaliation question here,” the motion states. “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.”