By Brinda Kalita and Michael Apfel
TAMPA, FL – On August 4, Governor Ron DeSantis suspended democratic state attorney Andrew Warren for refusing to pursue criminal charges in abortion, transgender rights and low-level cases—now the two officials are going to trial.
Prosecutor Warren was the district attorney representing Hillsborough County, and, during Warren’s time in office, he had implemented progressive criminal justice reforms such as decreasing the number of people arrested and incarcerated for the first time for non-violent offenses.
Gov. DeSantis, however, suspended Warren on the grounds of “cherry picking” laws to enforce during his time in office and for not following the rules of the state as a public official.
Warren, on the other hand, believes that DeSantis’ actions are an abuse of his power and that DeSantis is overturning the will of the people who elected Warren to his office.
In a tweet garnering over 8,000 views, Warren stated the following,
“Today we’re filing our reply brief to continue fighting DeSantis’ abuse of power. We’re fighting for the people–to make sure elections still matter. We didn’t pick this fight but are proud to be on the side of democracy and the rule of law. 10 days until the court hearing. Stay tuned.”
Warren said his suspension reflects a broader concern that DeSantis abused his power to further his own political agenda.
“As I’ve said from the beginning, there is so much more at stake than my job. This is about making sure that the people choose their elected officials. It’s about making sure that the governor doesn’t get to throw out people’s votes because he doesn’t like the outcome of an election. This is about making sure that even though Ron DeSantis is governor, elections still matter,” Warren said.
The U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida will hear arguments on Sept. 19 as tensions among Warren’s supporters and detractors continue to grow. The Florida Sheriffs Association—the largest state law enforcement association—maintains support for DeSantis.
“The governor’s suspension of State Attorney Warren is not political to me,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said at a DeSantis press conference. “It’s about law and order.”
The Florida Sheriffs Association’s claims do not go unchallenged, with the American Civil Liberties Union characterizing the suspension as an antidemocratic attack on constitutional rights.
“This decision is nothing less than an authoritarian effort to oust elected officials who do not align with the Governor’s extremist views on abortion,” said ACLU Florida following the suspension. “This kind of punitive action from our state’s leader is what we expect to see from repressive regimes, not democratic nations.”
Warren maintains he is prepared for trial. “I’m really excited that, even though we didn’t pick this fight, I’m proud to be on the side of those who believe in the rule of law and those who cherish democracy.”