Court Battles

Florida prosecutor sues DeSantis over ouster

Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren (D) on Wednesday sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), alleging the governor unconstitutionally suspended him for his views supporting gender-affirming surgery and abortion.

DeSantis suspended Warren earlier this month for “incompetence” and “neglect of duty,” citing statements the prosecutor signed indicating he would refuse to enforce “prohibitions on sex change operations for minors” and “any laws related to protecting the right to life.” 

In the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Warren said his statements were protected speech under the First Amendment and alleged that DeSantis used his authority to “suppress criticism and promote cronyism.”

“There’s so much more at stake here than my job,” Warren said at a press conference on Wednesday

“Ron DeSantis is hoping to get away with overturning a fair election, throwing out the votes of hundreds of thousands of Floridians,” he continued. “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.”

Warren also argued that although DeSantis is permitted to suspend state attorneys for neglect of duty under Florida’s state constitution, his rationale as to why Warren met that threshold was “facially insufficient” based on court precedent.

The suit states his elected position provides him absolute discretion in whether to prosecute a case, and he has never been referred a case to prosecute abortion-related crimes.

“DeSantis’s order does not identify any actual conduct by Warren related to his official duties involving alleged criminal activity for seeking gender-affirming healthcare or abortion,” the suit alleges.

The Hill has reached out to the governor’s office for comment.

“The governor’s action in clearly suspending Andrew from his elected office because of what he said, because of what he thinks, because of his longstanding, firmly held views on things like criminal justice reform and on other topics like abortion and the rights of transgender Americans — those are not bases on which the governor can suspend Mr. Warren from office,” J. Cabou, Warren’s attorney, said at the press conference. 

Earlier this year, DeSantis signed a state law banning abortions at 15 weeks of pregnancy, which imposes further restrictions than a previous law banning the procedure at 24 weeks. The law took effect on July 1 but has been subject to legal challenges from advocates for abortion rights.

A state appeals court has allowed the law to remain in place, but the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups last week asked the Florida Supreme Court to take up the case.

Tags abortion Andrew Warren Florida Roe v. Wade Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis Transgender rights
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