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Fla. Prosecutor Sues DeSantis After Being Sacked for Pro-Trans Support

Andrew Warren, former Florida prosecutor
Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Andrew Warren, the twice-elected Tampa-area prosecutor, accused Gov. Ron DeSantis of suspending him out of political retribution and violating his First Amendment rights.

A Democratic Florida prosecutor is suing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis over his sudden removal from his elected position.

In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, Andrew Warren, who served as Hillsborough County state attorney, accused DeSantis of abusing his power by suspending him for not prosecuting women who violate the state's new 15-week abortion ban.

DeSantis suspended the prosecutor in Tampa, Andrew Warren, earlier this month with an executive order. He replaced Warren with Susan Lopez, a judge whom he had just appointed to the bench in December.

Warren filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging the governor violated his free speech rights under the First Amendment. Though Warren spoke out in favor of abortion rights and gender-affirming medical care and his office has no pending cases in those areas and has not taken any action on them, DeSantis suspended the attorney. As Warren contends, DeSantis is attempting to overturn the results of an election.

DeSantis had previously indicated that Warren's promise not to prosecute people who violate abortion restrictions or a law barring gender-affirming care for minors prompted him to act.

"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 said during a Wednesday morning press conference in Tallahassee, Politicoreports. "There is so much more at stake here than my job."

The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in the Northern District of Florida, contends that DeSantis violated Warren's First Amendment rights by suspending him for his public statements opposing the criminalization of transgender people and his pledge not to prosecute women seeking abortions.

The suit accuses DeSantis of overstepping his authority by suspending Warren only for signing commitments rather than taking official action.

In June, Warren signed a joint statement with other prosecutors nationwide promising not to participate in efforts that criminalize transgender people and gender-affirming healthcare.

In his lawsuit, Warren claims his suspension is political retribution. In 2020, Warren was reelected with over 53 percent of the vote. He has been in office since 2016.

Specifically, the lawsuit refers to DeSantis' statements about suspending Warren, partly due to his support for gender-affirming treatment for transgender children.

DeSantis has been a vocal critic of gender-affirming treatment for transgender individuals.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Louis Virelli, professor of law at Stetson University College of Law, said he is concerned about the future of democracy in Florida if DeSantis is successful.

"A small step from here is if I, as governor, don't think a state attorney is being hard enough on a particular crime, I'm going to replace you with a person I prefer," Virelli said. "It's overriding voters' choice."

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