A Florida prosecutor suspended by Ron DeSantis for defying a new 15-week abortion law says a federal judge’s decision to send his reinstatement appeal to trial means a judgment is pending for the Republican governor of the state.
Andrew Warren, a Democrat, was removed from his position as Hillsborough County prosecutor on August 4 after saying he would not enforce the abortion ban or sue gender transition treatment providers for young people.
DeSantis cited Warren’s alleged “woke agenda” in the reasons for his decision.
At a hearing in Tallahassee on Monday, Judge Robert Hinkle denied DeSantis’ motions to dismiss Warren’s lawsuit, and another of Warren’s requesting an immediate return to office, instead asking that their differences be resolved in court. a trial in the coming weeks.
“The governor must now answer in a court where the facts matter and where you must tell the truth,” Warren said in an interview with The Guardian.
“It’s a victory for the truth. A federal judge ruled that the governor should appear in court to explain the reasons for my suspension, to show that it was not political, to show that it was not in violation of my freedom of expression, to show that it was not in violation of the right of voters to have the attorney of their choice.
The closely watched case should clarify DeSantis’ power to purge elected officials who disagree with him. In recent weeks, the governor has also removed four members of a Broward County school board who challenged him over Covid-19 mask mandates.
“The governor is instructed by the people of Florida to use his constitutional powers and may suspend Florida elected officials who refuse to enforce the law,” DeSantis’ office said in a statement after Monday’s hearing.
Critics, however, accused the governor of a selective application of the principle. The Orlando Sentinel noted that DeSantis has taken no action against so-called “constitutional” sheriffs who say they won’t enforce certain gun laws.
But he acted in 2019, suspending Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, a Democrat, for “negligence of duty.”
Warren said he believed a trial, which could start as early as next month, would undo any political posturing.
“It has always been a fight for democracy, the rule of law and elections,” he said.
“This is our fight for the truth. And now people will have the truth because the governor has to explain himself.
“At the end of the day, he could be called to testify in court. The court was pretty clear that they wanted to hear from the governor in terms of an explanation of the suspension to make sure the reasons I was suspended are in accordance with Florida law and the law federal.
Warren said his reinstatement was not the only focus of his trial.
“I wish I was back in power already, but there’s more at stake than my job,” he said.
“No matter what party you belong to or who you vote for, yours always counts. No elected official has the right to reject anyone’s vote. And the governor here tried to throw out the votes of hundreds of thousands of Floridians and nullify an election.
“If he gets away with it, what’s left of our democracy?” What is the point of having elections?
Warren ran as a progressive when he ousted Republican incumbent Mark Ober as Hillsborough County state’s attorney in 2016, and won re-election with 53% of the vote four years later.
He immediately set about enacting policies that upset conservatives, the Tampa Bay Times reported, including a commitment to introduce convict rehabilitation and recidivism prevention programs.
According to Tampa’s Fox13, Susan Lopez, whom DeSantis named in place of Warren, has already reversed many of her policies, including reinstating a controversial “bike stop” law enforcement measure that, according to criticism, unfairly targets minorities.