When Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren in early August, he did so like so many dictators before him—audaciously and vindictively. What the small-minded governor wasn’t counting on was being hit with a lawsuit weeks later.
According to Politico, Warren filed a federal lawsuit against DeSantis Wednesday, alleging that the anti-masking, book-banning brownshirt abused his power when he suspended Warren, alleging “neglect of duty.” Warren’s suit, filed in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida, claims that his First Amendment rights were violated after he signed a pledge refusing to criminally prosecute those who violate the state’s new 15-week abortion ban or hand sentences down to minors in need of gender-affirming care.
“This morning, I filed a suit in federal court to challenge that blatant abuse of power by Governor DeSantis in suspending me as state attorney,” Warren announced during a press conference.
RELATED STORY: DeSantis suspends ‘woke’ democratically elected state attorney for contradicting him on abortion
Florida's abortion restrictions went into effect on July 1 and do not allow for abortion even in the case of rape, incest, or human trafficking. The ban comes with a five-year prison sentence for violators; doctors who perform abortions could lose their licenses and be forced to pay a $10,000 fine.
On Aug. 10, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration put new rules into place banning health care providers from charging Medicaid for gender-affirming medical treatments for young people. The rule will go into effect on Aug. 21.
David B. Singer, an attorney representing Warren in the lawsuit, says, “No decision on any case ever considered by Warren while in office was impacted by these statements. … Statements of opinion on matters of the public debate do not relate to incompetence within the meaning of the Florida Constitution.”
When DeSantis suspended Warren, he replaced him with Hillsborough County Court Judge Susan Lopez—a member of the Federalist Society.
“I’m a twice-elected county prosecutor. I’ve spent my professional career locking up fraudsters and violent criminals. Without warning, I was forced out of office by an armed deputy, removed from my elected position, and replaced with a Ron Desantis accomplice,” Warren added.
Warren has been a vocal critic of DeSantis on a few issues, slamming the governor on his Gestapo-like election police force and an “anti-rioting” bill he signed in 2021, for example.
“There is so much more at stake here than my job. Ron DeSantis is hoping to get away with overturning a fair election, throwing out the votes of hundreds of thousands of Floridians. By challenging this illegal abuse of power, we’re fighting to make sure no governor can toss out an election because he doesn’t like the winner," Warren said. “The First Amendment doesn’t just protect him. It protects everyone. Even those of us he disagrees with.”
Republicans have been rabid in their attacks on Warren, particularly after it was rumored he received campaign support from billionaire philanthropist and Democratic donor George Soros.
When asked about a possible Soros donation in 2020, Warren said, “We think so. … We understand that he gave money to the state (Democratic) party. And the state party money ... went to support different candidates. And I have very little insight into the amount of money he gave, who it went to, etc.”
Warren’s lawsuit is likely now headed to the Republican-led Florida Senate, which, according to Politico, will have to take action before the prosecutor is formally removed from his position. He has urged people to contribute to his legal defense.
Abortion rights, climate change, and gun safety are all on the ballot this fall. Click to start writing Postcards to Democratic-leaning voters in targeted House districts today.