Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Thursday that he has suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren, citing Warren’s refusal to enforce the state’s new bans on abortive and transgender-affirming healthcare.
Warren, a Democrat elected to Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit in 2016, made headlines this summer by pledging not to prosecute Florida’s newly passed law, which bans abortions after 15 weeks. Warren also signed an open letter and amicus brief from Fair & Just Prosecution last month that opposed Texas’s ban on trans-affirming care, saying such laws, including Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, will “only erode trust in government and undermine faith in the rule of law.”
DeSantis’s response was to suspend Warren from his post entirely, citing neglect of duty as well as “incompetence” and “willful defiance of his duties” in his order. “State Attorneys have a duty to prosecute crimes as defined in Florida law, not to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on his personal agenda,” DeSantis asserted in a press conference Thursday. The governor went on to claim without evidence that Warren was “funded” by billionaire George Soros, which is a popular antisemitic conspiracy theory the GOP loves to throw around.
In Warren’s place, DeSantis has appointed Judge Susan Lopez, a fellow Republican. “I want to thank the Governor for placing his trust in me,” Lopez said in a statement accompanying DeSantis’ announcement, “and I promise that I will faithfully execute the duties of this office.”
Warren was reportedly escorted from his office on Thursday ahead of a planned news conference about a major wrongful conviction case. He had not released a statement regarding the suspension at publication time.
“Governor DeSantis’ suspension of State Attorney Andrew Warren is an unprecedented and dangerous intrusion on the separation of powers and the will of the voters,” wrote Fair and Just Prosecution Executive Director Miriam Krinsky in response to the announcement. “With this outrageous overreach, Gov. DeSantis is sending a clear message that the will of the people of Hillsborough County matters less than his own political agenda.”
That agenda notably includes denying school lunches to trans children rather than accepting a recent proposal from the Biden administration that would extend Title IX’s antidiscrimination protections to include gender identity. In today’s Florida, it seems, you either interpret the law Ron’s way or the unemployed way.
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