Florida governor suspends prosecutor over new abortion law

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida (TBEN) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday suspended Tampa’s elected prosecutor for vowing not to enforce the state’s new 15-week abortion ban and for supporting gender transition treatments for minors.

The Republican governor announced the suspension of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren at a news conference in the county office, where DeSantis and law enforcement criticized Warren for failing to prosecute certain crimes.

“If you blatantly violate your oath of office, when you put yourself above the law, you have violated your duty, you have neglected your duty, and you show a lack of ability to perform those duties,” DeSantis said jubilantly. .

Warren, a Democrat, was elected state attorney in 2016 and 2020 by Hillsborough County voters. His office did not immediately send an email asking for comment.

The suspension comes as DeSantis is running for reelection in Florida and is building his national profile as a potential 2024 Republican presidential nominee through near-constant criticism of liberal policies on abortion, policing and other cultural war issues.

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When asked whether he overrides the will of voters by suspending their election to charge, DeSantis said Warren’s conduct has fallen “below the standard of the Florida Constitution” and that he has neglected his duty to state law.

“I don’t think the people of Hillsborough County want to have an agenda that is basically awake where you decide that your view of social justice means that certain laws shouldn’t be enforced,” the governor said.

Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a Democrat in Tampa and nominee for leader of the Florida House Democratic Caucus, said Warren used his discretion appropriately.

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

In an executive order formally suspending Warren, DeSantis focused heavily on Warren signing statements in which prosecutors across the country said they will not use their offices to pursue criminal cases against asylum seekers or providers of abortion or gender transition treatment.

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Florida has not enacted laws criminalizing gender transition treatment for minors, but “these statements prove that Warren believes he has the authority to defy the Florida legislature and overturn criminal laws in his jurisdiction with which he disagrees,” it reads. executive order.

The state’s new abortion restriction went into effect on July 1. It prohibits abortions beyond 15 weeks, with exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life, avoid serious injury, or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow exceptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.

Violators can face up to five years in prison. Doctors and other medical professionals can lose their license and face a $10,000 administrative fine for each violation.

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

“The Governor’s suspension of State Attorney Warren is not political for 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,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. He said Warren has acted as some sort of “supreme authority by reducing charges, dropping cases and single-handedly determining what crimes are 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 laws, and I understand the important role the prosecutor plays in ensuring the safety of our community and enforcing our laws,” Lopez said.