Recently suspended Florida state attorney Andrew Warren (D) is suing Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in federal court to get his job back.
Warren was elected in 2020 to represent Hillsborough County, but DeSantis recently suspended him after Warren made statements signaling his unwillingness to prosecute people for violating abortion restrictions and for providing gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth.
Warren’s office didn’t actually have any cases pending on those two issues, but DeSantis suspended him anyway, calling Warren soft on crime and stating that Warren had violated his oath of office by choosing not to enforce these laws “based on his personal agenda.”
The state constitution gives the governor the power to suspend state officials for different reasons, including neglect of duty, incompetence, and permanent inability to perform official duties. However, Warren’s lawsuit states that his suspension was a “blatant abuse of power” that violated his constitutionally protected rights to free speech.
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“The governor’s authority is not unlimited. He can disagree with my political views. He can disagree with my criminal justice philosophy. He can even disagree with my unwavering commitment to public safety, fairness, and justice,” Warren said in a Wednesday press conference. “And he can do all those things because he’s protected by the First Amendment. But the First Amendment doesn’t just protect him. It protects everyone, even those of us he disagrees with.”
Warren has previously stated that in suspending him and replacing him with a crony, DeSantis effectively tried to overrule the will of the thousands of Floria voters who elected Warren to represent them.
“There’s so much more at stake here than my job,” Warren said on Wednesday. “By challenging this illegal abuse of power, we can make sure that no governor can toss out the results of an election because he doesn’t like the outcome.”
State Attorney Andrew Warren announces this morning that he has filed a federal lawsuit against Ron Desantis after he was removed from his elected office: “I was forced out of office by an armed deputy, removed from my position, and replaced by a Ron Desantis accomplice.” pic.twitter.com/TGybsgiHzw
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) August 17, 2022
Warren’s suit asks the judge to compel the governor to rescind DeSantis’ suspension, and to prohibit him from taking similar action against Warren and others in the future.
Warren had spoken out against bans on transgender youth getting gender-affirming medical care – though Florida doesn’t have such a ban. Warren has also criticized the state’s Don’t Say Gay law and signed a letter opposing the criminal prosecution of people seeking an abortion.
DeSantis replaced Warren with Susan Lopez, a Hillsborough County Judge who DeSantis personally appointed. One of her first acts upon taking Warren’s position was to reinstate a law that was largely used to harass Black pedestrians and bikers.