Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspends prosecutor over his stance on new abortion law, gender-affirming care

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Tampa’s elected state prosecutor on Thursday for pledging not to enforce the state’s state law. New 15-week abortion ban and to support gender-affirming treatment for minors.

The Republican governor announced the suspension of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren at a news conference at the county’s sheriff’s office, where DeSantis and law enforcement officials criticized Warren for not prosecuting certain crimes.

“When you openly violate your oath of office, when you make yourself above the law, you have breached your duty, you have neglected your duty and you are unable to perform those duties.” Displaying a lack of ability to be,” DeSantis told Cheers.

Warren, a Democrat, was elected as state counsel by Hillsborough County voters in 2016 and 2020. His office did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

The suspension comes as DeSantis runs for re-election in Florida and builds up his national profile as a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate through continued criticism of liberal policies on abortion, policing and other culture war issues.

Asked whether he was overriding the will of voters by suspending his choice for prosecutor, DeSantis said Warren’s conduct “fell below the norm of the Florida Constitution” and that he expressed his adherence to state law. duty has been neglected.

The governor said, “I don’t think the people of Hillsborough County want an agenda that’s basically a wake-up call where you’re deciding that your idea of ​​social justice means that some laws haven’t been implemented.” should go.”

Fentis Driskell, a Tampa Democrat and leader of the Florida House Democratic Caucus, said Warren was using his prosecutor’s discretion fairly.

“I’m not going to mince words: This is a shocking political attack on an elected official serving the people of Hillsborough County,” she said. “Andrew Warren is being fired because he has assured our community that he will not be a foot soldier in Ron DeSantis’s extremist agenda.”

in one executive Order While formally suspending Warren, DeSantis focused heavily on Warren. to sign of Statement Where prosecutors across the country said they would not use their offices to pursue criminal cases against seekers or providers of abortion or gender-affirming treatment.

Florida has not enacted laws criminalizing gender-affirming treatment for minors, but “these statements prove that Warren feels he has the authority to defy the Florida Legislature and to repeal the criminal laws in his jurisdiction.” right with which he disagrees,” the executive order reads.

The state’s new abortion ban went into effect July 1. It prohibits abortion after 15 weeks, with exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman, to prevent serious injury or to prevent a fatal fetal abnormality. It does not allow exemption in cases where the pregnancy was caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.

Violators can be jailed for up to five years. Physicians and other medical professionals can lose their licenses and face an administrative fine of $10,000 for each violation.

The executive order accuses Warren of having “a flawed and lawless understanding of his duties as a state attorney” with “presumed non-enforcement for certain criminal violations, including trespassing in a business location, disorderly conduct, disorderly intoxication and prostitution.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said, “The governor’s suspension of state attorney Warren is not political to me. It’s about law and order. It’s about making sure our loved ones are safe. It’s about the victims and their voices.” is about.” He added that Warren is acting as a sort of “supreme authority, by downplaying charges, dropping cases and single-handedly determining what crimes would be legal or illegal in our county.”

DeSantis appointed Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to serve in Warren’s place during his suspension.

“I have the utmost respect for our state’s laws and I understand the important role a state attorney can play in ensuring the safety of our community and enforcement of our laws,” Lopez said.

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