I am writing to you from Los Angeles, and that means I got to record this week’s episode of Serious Trouble live in person with Ken and Sara!
This week, Ken and I talked about the Walt Disney Company’s lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, which raises an interesting legal question: When is an otherwise-constitutional government action made unconstitutional by the motive that elected officials had for acting?
Republicans in Florida have moved to revoke Disney’s authority to appoint the governing board of the municipal district governing Walt Disney World — a power to which Disney had no inherent constitutional right. But they made clear the reason they did so was to punish Disney for its constitutionally protected speech. That’s a no-no, and so Disney is likely to win a restoration of its powers in court. Disney also has other strong constitutional claims, like under the contracts clause. Disney’s apparent upper hand in this litigation even has Donald Trump’s associates gloating that maybe DeSantis really isn’t Trump-but-better-at-winning.
The Disney case also gave me an opportunity to make Ken talk about the rule against perpetuities, which was almost as enjoyable as when I make him read out the RICO Hotline email address.
There’s more in this episode. We also talked about developments in E. Jean Carroll’s civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump over the rape she says he committed against her in the 1990s. Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina conducted a widely panned cross examination against Carroll, though Ken notes Tacopina had few good options about how to question his client’s accuser. (A friend of the show gives us an illuminating mock cross examination.) We also talked about Trump’s unsurprising decision not to testify, his somewhat more surprising decision to offer no other witnesses to testify on his behalf, and what sort of damages might be awarded if Trump loses.
And we talked about developments in other proceedings — Trump’s loss in the suit he brought against his niece and The New York Times, Mike Pence’s appearance before special counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury in Washington DC, and the dismissal of the involuntary manslaughter charge against Alec Baldwin.
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Episode links and references
Melissa Clark’s aïoli recipe