When Democratic Tampa-era prosecutor Andrew Warren declared he wouldn't carry out any prosecutions having to do with either abortion or transgender care, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis responded by suspending him. And Warren has filed a lawsuit against the far-right Republican governor.
Warren discussed his suspension and his decision to sue DeSantis' office during an interview with the Daily Beast, stressing that he isn't simply suing to get his job back but rather, because he believes DeSantis has crossed a dangerous line by suspending an elected official. The Hillsborough County prosecutor wasn't appointed to that position by DeSantis, but rather, was chosen by voters.
Warren told the Beast, "Can a governor just overturn elections in the state of Florida? If the governor has the power to do so, then what's left of democracy?.... There's so much more at stake than my job. This is a fight to stop the erosion of our democracy. It's to ensure our democracy has meaning, so we have elected officials and not a king — so no governor can steal the people's vote and silence their voice. Regardless of what party you belong to, your vote matters."
Daily Beast reporter Jose Pagliery notes that the judge assigned to Warren's lawsuit is U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, who has "had some experience throwing a damp towel on DeSantis power grabs."
"In 2021, DeSantis and MAGA Republicans tried to throw Trump and extreme right-wing conservatives a lifeline by passing a law forbidding any social media company from deplatforming a political candidate," Pagliery explains. "Hinkle was the judge who blocked them, issuing a preliminary injunction that was eventually upheld on appeal and is currently awaiting input from the Supreme Court. In Warren's case, the judge has already refused the DeSantis Administration's request to dismiss the lawsuit. On September 29, he issued an order saying that Warren can continue claiming his First Amendment rights were violated when he was fired. And just last week, Hinkle again sided against DeSantis — and hinted at how this case might go. The judge issued an order reiterating how wrong the governor's legal theory is, namely that public employees' on-the-job statements aren't protected by the First Amendment and can be subject to discipline by their employer."
Warren is arguing that because he is not a DeSantis appointee, but rather, someone who was chosen by voters in his county, DeSantis has seriously overstepped his bounds by suspending him.
Warren told The Daily Beast, "The judge ruled, quite clearly, I'm not an employee of the governor, and I'm accountable to the people. If you believe in the principles of conservative government, local control, why is Tallahassee dictating to the voters in Hillsborough who their state attorney should be?"
Warren's lawsuit against DeSantis comes at a time when he is busy campaigning for reelection. A Mason-Dixon poll released in late September found Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, a former Florida governor and ex-Republican, trailing DeSantis by 11 percent.