TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren has asked a federal court to strike down his suspension.
On Wednesday morning, Warren filed a lawsuit, asking the court to reverse his “illegal suspension by Gov. Ron DeSantis.” The suit was filed against DeSantis individually and in his official capacity as governor.
DeSantis suspended Warren earlier this month, accusing him of incompetence and neglect of duty. The move came after Warren stated he would not enforce laws that restrict abortion or pursue action against doctors providing gender-affirming care.
“Andrew Warren has put himself publicly above the law,” the governor said at a news conference announcing the suspension.
Former and current law enforcement voiced support for DeSantis’ decision, accusing Warren of being soft on crime and endangering the public. Others slammed the governor’s choice.
“The people of Hillsborough elected Andrew Warren not once, but twice, because of his commitment to safety and justice for all people. This action by Governor DeSantis is that of a wannabe dictator who puts partisan politics first,” said Rep. Charlie Crist, the Democratic frontrunner for governor of Florida. “He doesn’t give a damn about women or average Floridians. It’s a flagrant abuse of power.”
Warren was elected twice by voters in the Tampa area, in 2016 and 2020.
“Our crime rate has gone down every year since I’ve been in office, it’s down 30%,” Warren told 8 On Your Side’s Mahsa Saedi. “In fact, it’s lower than some of those surrounding counties where the sheriff’s moseyed on into Hillsborough to join the governor at his press conference.”
Warren’s lawsuit contends the suspension violates his First Amendment rights.
“The First Amendment to the United States Constitution requires that elected officials ‘be given the widest latitude to express their views on issues of policy,'” the suit states. “Reaffirming that truth, the U.S. Supreme Court recently explained that the First Amendment ‘prohibits government officials from subjecting individuals to ‘retaliatory actions’ after the fact for having engaged in protected speech.'”
It notes that while the Florida Constitution allows the governor to suspend elected officials from office, “this removal of power applies only in extraordinary circumstances.”
“We did not seek this fight, but the law is on our side and democracy is at stake,” Warren said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit.
He asked supporters to donate to his legal defense fund, andrewwarrenfl.com.
“It’s not surprising Warren, who was suspended for refusing to follow the law, would file a legally baseless lawsuit challenging his suspension. We look forward to responding in court,” DeSantis’ spokeswoman, Taryn Fenske said in a statement.
Warren will have another press conference in Tampa at 2:30 p.m.