TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Senate paused its review of Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren’s suspension on Thursday.
In a letter sent to Warren and all Florida state senators, Senate President Wilton Simpson wrote, “I have directed that any Senate proceedings regarding Executive Order of Suspension 22-176 be held in abeyance until a final determination in this pending litigation has been rendered.” Simpson also asked senators to “refrain from speaking publicly about the merits or substance of any executive suspension”.
Executive Order of Suspension 22-176 is the executive order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Aug. 4 to suspend Warren. Warren filed a lawsuit on Wednesday challenging his “illegal suspension by Gov. Ron DeSantis” and asking the court to reverse it. The lawsuit was filed against DeSantis individually and in his official capacity as governor.
The lawsuit claims that DeSantis’ suspension violated Warren’s right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution and exceeded DeSantis’ authority as governor under Florida law. It asks a judge to compel the governor to cancel the suspension, put Warren back in office and prohibit the governor from taking similar actions against him in the future.
The Florida Constitution details the process and specific reasons the governor can suspend an elected official like Warren. The state senate investigates the suspension and decides whether to remove the official or not. However, under senate rules, the process must be placed on hold while litigation challenging the lawsuit is pending.
Attorneys for Warren filed the lawsuit Wednesday morning in the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, where the case was assigned to Judge Robert Hinkle. Gov. DeSantis, through his attorneys, has reportedly accepted service of the lawsuit.
“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 on Wednesday.