Josh Hawley’s feckless bid to slap Disney is a blatant abuse of power

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Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo) is trying to set a trap for Mickey Mouse in a destructive and foolish pander to those outraged by Disney’s own foolish political pandering.

Hawley this week offered a bill to strip Disney’s copyright protection over Mickey Mouse and other iconic characters. His Copyright Clause Restoration Act limits copyrights to 56 years and applies the rule retroactively, thereby stripping Disney of its rights immediately.

You can certainly argue that copyrights now run too long (creators of all kinds would vehemently disagree), but this is blatant partisan payback, exactly what Americans don’t need from Congress.

Especially when Disney’s latest copyright protections (including for Mickey Mouse) are already set to expire Jan. 1, 2024, and top Republicans have said they don’t favor any extension.

We were already dubious about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s own slap at Disney, but at least that involved revoking a special privilege, the company’s special district for Disney World. Targeting a company’s intellectual property is simply an abuse of lawmaking power, even if cloaked as part of a larger reform.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ended Disney’s special tax status in Florida.
AP/John Raoux

We thought it absurd for Disney to slam the Florida GOP over the ban on sexually explicit material in little kids’ classrooms, but corporations actually do have free-speech rights. The popular blowback for betraying its family-friendly image is the proper payback — what anyone might earn for being a public idiot.

Left or right, politicians abusing their power to wage culture war (or at least saber-rattle to win points with their base) only invites the other side to do the same — undermining the rule of law.

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