(Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co.’s lawsuit against Ron DeSantis was reassigned to the Donald Trump-appointed judge who previously upheld the law that sparked the feud between the entertainment company and the conservative Florida governor.
The case was transferred to US District Judge Allen Winsor on Thursday, after US District Judge Mark Walker recused himself due to a relative’s ownership of Disney stock. Walker, a Barack Obama appointee, had ruled against DeSantis several times in culture-war cases.
In contrast, Winsor dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state’s law barring classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation. Dubbed “don’t say gay” by critics, the law is at the center of the fight between Disney and DeSantis. The company sued DeSantis earlier this year, claiming that he was retaliating against them because of Disney’s opposition to the measure.
DeSantis had sought to have Walker removed from the case, arguing that he could not be impartial given comments he had made about the company during hearings in two previous unrelated cases.
Walker said those arguments don’t warrant his removal from the case and amount to “nothing more than rank judge-shopping.” But he acknowledged that he should step aside because one of his relatives within a third degree owns 30 shares of Disney.
“I do not think it likely that the outcome of this litigation would substantially affect The Walt Disney Company’s share price,” Walker said in his Thursday order. “I choose to err on the side of caution — which, here, is also the side of judicial integrity — and disqualify myself.”
Disney sued DeSantis in April, claiming that his efforts to strip the company of control over the jurisdiction in which its Florida theme parks sit is unlawful retaliation for the company speaking out against his policies. Disney opposed a 2022 law limiting gender identity and sexual orientation instruction in public schools.
Prior to being named to the federal bunch in 2019, Winsor was a Florida state appellate judge. He also previously served as Florida solicitor general in the administration of Governor Rick Scott.
The dispute has served as political ammunition for DeSantis, who recently launched his 2024 presidential campaign. But the fight has also drawn criticism from other Republicans, including Trump, the current front-runner for the party’s 2024 nomination.
Read more: Disney Suit Against DeSantis Assigned to Obama-Appointed Judge
The case is Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US Inc. v. DeSantis, 4:23-cv-00163, US District Court, Northern District of Florida (Tallahassee).
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