Andrew Warren, fired by Gov. DeSantis for Refusing to Prosecute Abortion Crimes, Sues for Restoration

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A Florida district attorney has sued Governor Ron DeSantis (R) in a bid for reinstatement after being fired from office for promising not to pursue cases arising out of Florida’s 15-week abortion ban and possible bans. on gender affirming care.

Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren (D) argued that his Aug. 4 suspension was unlawful under the First Amendment and characterized his removal as “retaliation” by DeSantis against a critic and political rival, according to a federal complaint filed Wednesday. in the Northern District of Florida.

DeSantis Suspends Elected Democratic Prosecutor Who Signed Abortion Case Pledge

In a video message, Warren said that in addition to violating his freedom of speech, DeSantis was violating Florida law.

“He has violated the Florida Constitution by removing me from office without any legal justification and throwing away the results of fair and free elections,” Warren said.

DeSantis’s office dismissed Warren’s federal complaint as “unfounded.”

“Not surprisingly, Warren, who was suspended for refusing to follow the law, would file a legally unfounded lawsuit to challenge his suspension. We look forward to responding in court,” a DeSantis spokesperson said in a statement.

Warren has been in office since 2016 and was re-elected in 2020 with more than 53 percent of the vote.

DeSantis suspending Warren and replacing him with a person of his choice sets a worrisome tone for democracy in Florida, Louis Virelli, a law professor at Stetson University College of Law, told The Washington Post.

“One small step from here is that if I, as governor, think a prosecutor isn’t tough enough for a particular crime, I’m going to replace you with someone I prefer,” Virelli said. “It’s the voters’ final choice.”

Virelli said the complaint is one of the few options for Warren if he wants to keep his job.

Part of Warren’s argument in the complaint is that the Florida Constitution limits removal to genuine incompetence or inability to do the job and violation of a legal obligation.

“Warren will be punished for what he said and not for what he did,” Virelli said.

Shortly after Warren’s suspension, his office’s chief of communications was told she had to resign and be paid for the entire month — or fired on the spot.

Melanie Snow-Waxler, who began her role at the prosecutor’s office in May, was terminated on August 12.

“This illegal dismissal is part of a disturbing pattern of retaliation,” her attorney Ryan Barack said in a statement this week.

DeSantis and Warren are ideological polar opposites who have spoken publicly about topics such as abortion, covid restrictions, and criminal justice and transgender rights.

In June, the day the Dobbs v. Jackson When the ruling was handed down, effectively ending the federal right to abortion, Warren joined dozens of prosecutors across the country by signing a pledge that they would “abstain from using the limited resources of the criminal justice system to criminalize personal medical decisions”.

In 2021, Warren signed a similar joint statement with other elected prosecutors, affirming that health care decisions should be “private discretion” and saying they would not use their office to “promote the criminalization of gender-affirming health care or transgender people.”

The DeSantis administration has pursued an aggressive policy of increasingly restricting medical treatments such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy; last week, the state banned people from using Medicare coverage to help pay for gender-affirming care.

Florida blocks Medicaid coverage for people seeking gender-affirming care

Since Warren’s suspension, he and DeSantis have disagreed over the nature of the suspension. While Warren labeled his suspension “temporary” in his filing, the DeSantis office has said Warren is no longer the prosecutor for the Hillsborough County 13th Judicial Circuit after the governor appointed Susan Lopez, a Republican judge who opposes the trial. Warren backed in 2016.

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