A Florida prosecutor vowed Sunday to fight Gov. Ron DeSantis’ suspension after he pledged not to enforce the state’s 15-week abortion ban and support gender transition for minors treat.
Andrew Warren, a Democrat suspended last week from his twice-elected post as state attorney in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, said in a Facebook video message and news release Sunday he plans a “vigorous defense” by his legal team but did not give detail.
“I’m not going to give in without a fight,” Warren said in the video. “I refuse to let this person trample on your freedom to speak your mind, make your own health care decisions, and count your votes.”
Warren was suspended Thursday by DeSantis, a Republican seeking re-election in November and a potential 2024 presidential nominee, who cited negligence and other alleged violations. The governor argues that’s because Warren signed a statement with dozens of other prosecutors across the country pledging not to bring criminal charges against people who seek or provide abortion or gender transition treatment.
Warren argued Sunday that the governor was essentially trying to undo the will of the Tampa-area voters who elected him in 2016 and 2020.
“I was elected because the people of this county share my vision for criminal justice, trust my judgment, and have seen your success,” Warren said in the video. “I swore to uphold the Constitution, which is exactly what I did. De Santis is trying to take my job away because of my job.”
Under Florida law, the Republican-controlled state Senate has the power to restore Warren or maintain his removal. Warren could also take his case to court.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Sunday. However, DeSantis said Thursday that Warren’s actions were “above the law” and “demonstrated a lack of ability to perform his duties.”
“I don’t think people in Hillsborough County want to have an agenda that’s basically awakened, where you decide what you think about social justice means certain laws shouldn’t be enforced,” the governor said.
Florida’s new abortion restrictions went into effect July 1 and are still being challenged in court by abortion providers and allies. It prohibits abortion after 15 weeks unless the procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life, prevent serious harm or have a fatal abnormality in the fetus. It does not allow exemptions if the pregnancy was caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.
Violators could face up to five years in prison. Doctors and other medical professionals can lose their licenses and face administrative fines of $10,000 per violation.
Florida has not yet enacted a law to criminalize gender transition therapy for minors.
DeSantis appointed Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to replace Warren during his suspension.