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Judge wants DeSantis's explanation for suspending prosecutor who defied abortion ban

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 9/24/2022 Kaelan Deese
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A judge denied a motion from Gov. Ron DeSantis to dismiss a lawsuit from a prosecutor he suspended in August for violating the state's new law that ban abortion procedures after 15 weeks of gestation, saying he seeks further explanation for the governor's decision.

On Aug. 4, DeSantis issued an executive order suspending Andrew Warren, a Hillsborough County Democrat and state attorney who was twice elected, accusing him of "incompetence and willful defiance of his duties" when he declined to enforce the state's abortion law.

Although Judge Robert Hinkle said Monday the trial could commence, he also rejected Warren's motion to be reinstated to his former position — for now.

Hinkle, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, said he wanted to settle the matter through a trial rather than reinstate Warren now, with the potential to remove him again later. Several media outlets reported Hinkle did not appear completely convinced by DeSantis's argument, hoping that a full trial could help determine his final decision.

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In a statement, Warren said he "look[s] forward" to the case going to trial, noting it could begin as early as next month, and for the governor "having the opportunity to come into court — where facts and truth matter — and try to justify what he did."

Warren was suspended under Article IV, Section 7 of the Florida Constitution, according to an Aug. 4 press release from DeSantis's office. The governor said the suspension came following a statewide review, which found that most cases of laws not being enforced traced back to Warren's office.

But DeSantis's administration also cited Warren's signature on letters saying he would not enforce prohibitions on gender-confirmation operations for minors and would not prosecute abortion cases.

The suspended prosecutor's lawsuit alleges DeSantis violated his First Amendment rights and argues the governor's executive order "did not identify any actual conduct by Warren related to his official duties involving alleged criminal activity for seeking gender-affirming health care or abortion."

Conversely, state Solicitor General Henry Whitaker, who is representing the governor, said that Warren's speech in his statements wasn't protected because "it is government speech."

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"Andrew Warren has no First Amendment right to say that he’s not going to do his job,” Whitaker told the judge.

Warren's team asked the judge for an Oct. 24 trial date. DeSantis appointed Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to serve as state attorney during Warren's suspension.

 

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Tags: Ron DeSantis, Florida, Republican, Democrat, First Amendment

Original Author: Kaelan Deese

Original Location: Judge wants DeSantis's explanation for suspending prosecutor who defied abortion ban

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