Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc. (“Disney”), the owner and operator of the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, has sued Florida’s Governor and other officials for allegedly launching “a targeted campaign of government retaliation” in response to Disney’s opposition to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law. The Complaint in Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc. v. DeSantis et al., highlights one of the most hotly debated topics in the era of competing ESG and anti-ESG sentiments: to what extent should corporations take public positions on political and social issues that might not directly relate to the companies’ core business operations? Corporate boards of directors should be attuned to and exercise appropriate oversight over these questions, as well as the related issue of corporate political contributions.
The Supreme Court held today that constitutional challenges to administrative agencies’ structure can be brought in federal district court and need not be raised through an administrative proceeding with subsequent appellate review. The decision in Axon Enterprise, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission (U.S. Apr. 14, 2023) – which involved challenges to two federal agencies’ use of Administrative Law Judges (“ALJs”) for enforcement proceedings – considered only the issue of where such challenges can be brought. The Court did not address substantive questions about whether the ALJ process or the agency structure itself is constitutional – hot topics that could come before the Court in other matters.