ST. PETERSURG, Fla. (AP) - A Florida prosecutor vowed Sunday to fight his suspension from office by Gov. Ron DeSantis over his promise not to enforce the state’s 15-week abortion ban and support for gender transition treatments for minors.
Andrew Warren, a Democrat, was suspended last week from his twice-elected post as state attorney in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa. He said in a Facebook video message and news release Sunday that he plans a "vigorous defense" by his legal team but did not give specifics.
"I’m not going down without a fight," Warren said on the video. "I refuse to let this man trample on your freedoms to speak your mind, to make your own health care decisions, and to have your vote count."
Warren was suspended Thursday by DeSantis, a Republican seeking re-election in November and potential 2024 presidential candidate, who cited neglect of duty and other alleged violations. The governor contended that’s because Warren signed statements with dozens of other prosecutors nationwide vowing not to pursue criminal cases against people who seek or provide abortions or gender transition treatments.
Warren contended Sunday the governor was essentially seeking to nullify the will of voters in the Tampa area 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, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. DeSantis is trying to take away my job for doing my job."
Under Florida law, the Republican-controlled state Senate has the authority to reinstate Warren or uphold his removal from office. Warren could also take his case to court.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment Sunday. DeSantis said Thursday, however, that Warren was acting "above the law" and "displaying a lack of competence to be able to perform" the duties of his office.
"I don’t think the people of Hillsborough County want to have an agenda that is basically woke, where you’re deciding that your view of social justice means certain laws shouldn’t be enforced," said the governor.
Florida’s new abortion restriction became effective July 1 and remains under court challenge by abortion providers and allies. It prohibits abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.
Violators could face up to five years in prison. Physicians and other medical professionals could lose their licenses and face administrative fines of $10,000 for each violation.
Florida has not enacted laws criminalizing gender transition treatments for minors.
DeSantis appointed Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to serve in Warren’s place during his suspension.