December 3, 2022

Florida’s attorney general on Sunday vowed to fight his suspension from office by Governor Ron DeSantis over his promise not to enforce the state’s 15-week abortion ban and to support gender transition treatments for minors.

Andrew Warren, a suspended Democrat last week who was twice elected state attorney in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, said in a Facebook video message and Sunday press release that he plans a “strong defense” by his legal team but did not provide details.

“I won’t fall without a fight,” Warren said in the video. “I refuse to let this man trample your freedoms to express what’s on your mind, make your health care decisions, and make your voice count.”

Warren was suspended Thursday by DeSantis, a Republican seeking re-election in November and a potential 2024 presidential candidate, for dereliction of duty and other alleged violations. The governor asserted that this was because Warren signed statements with dozens of other attorneys general across the country and pledged not to pursue criminal cases against people who seek or provide abortions or sex-transformation treatments.

Warren alleged Sunday that the governor was essentially seeking to nullify the will of the Tampa-area voters who elected him in 2016 and 2020.

“I was elected because the people of this county share my vision of criminal justice, trust my judgment, and have witnessed your success,” Warren said in the video. “I swore to uphold the constitution, which is exactly what I did. DeSantis is trying to take away my job for doing my job.”

Under Florida law, the Republican-controlled state Senate has the power to reinstate Warren or support his removal from office. Warren can also take his case to court.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on Sunday. However, DeSantis said Thursday, Warren was acting “above the law” and “demonstrating a lack of competence to be able to perform” his office duties.

“I don’t think the people in Hillsborough County want to have an agenda that is fundamentally awakened where you decide that your view of social justice means that certain laws are not enforced,” the governor said.

Florida’s new abortion ban became effective July 1 and is still being challenged by abortion providers and allies. Abortion after 15 weeks is prohibited, except if the procedure is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman or prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal defect. No exemptions are allowed in cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape, incest, or human trafficking.

Violators can face up to five years in prison. Physicians and other medical professionals may lose their licenses and face administrative fines of $10,000 for each violation.

Florida has not passed laws criminalizing transsexual treatments for minors.

DeSantis has appointed Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to serve in Warren’s place while he is suspended.

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