The power of the Republican Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantisto purge elected officials who disagree with him will be challenged in a federal lawsuit filed by a suspended state attorney for “waking up.”
Andrew Warren was deleted as the Hillsborough County prosecutor on August 4 after saying he would not enforce a new 15-week abortion ban or prosecute youth gender transition treatment providers.
At a press conference announcing the suspension, DeSantis, considered a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, attacked Warren’s “woke agenda” and “flagrant violation of his oath of office” for refusing to apply the law.
Warren, a twice-elected Democrat, hit back Wednesday with a lawsuit filed in federal court in Tallahassee. In a Twitter post announcing the move, he said he was taking action “against the abuse of power and unlawful suspension of Ron DeSantis”.
In a video message, he added: “The governor broke two laws. He violated my First Amendment rights by taking revenge on me for speaking out about abortion and transgender rights, and he violated the Florida constitution by dismissing me from office without any legal justification.
He told reporters, “If the governor is allowed to do this, what is left of democracy? If the Governor is authorized to retaliate against me for speaking, what remains of the First Amendment? »
DeSantis responded in a statement, saying Warren’s action was without merit.
“It’s no surprise that Warren, who was suspended for refusing to follow the law, is filing a lawsuit without legal basis to challenge his suspension. We look forward to responding in court,” the statement read.
Some analysts questioned the legality of DeSantis’ decision, pointing out that it was based on an action that did not take place.
Additionally, the Orlando Sentinel noted that Governor took no action against so-called “constitutional” sheriffs who say they won’t enforce certain gun laws.
He acted in 2019, suspending Broward County Sheriff Scott Israela Democrat, for “negligence of duty”.
Like Warren, Israel — who came under fire for his department’s response to the February 2018 high school shooting in Parkland in which 17 people were killed — argued DeSantis acted illegally by overriding voters’ wishes. . He failed to regain his job.
DeSantis has made “culture war” issues a central part of his strategy to win re-election in November and, according to many observers, a likely run for the White House in two years.
Warren has the backing of Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried, two Democrats going head-to-head in next Tuesday’s Florida primary to challenge DeSantis in the fall.
Crist, a former governor and congressman who represents Hillsborough County, called DeSantis “an autocrat who would love to be the dictator of Florida and then of America.”
Fried, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture and the only elected statewide Democrat, was equally scathing.
“It’s not up to the governor to remove elected officials because he doesn’t agree with their philosophies,” she told Warren supporters in Tampa. “It’s a local problem that had to stay local.”