Florida prosecutor Andrew Warren sued Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in federal court Wednesday after being suspended for saying he wouldn’t bring criminal charges for violations of a 15-week abortion ban.
The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida, argues DeSantis overreached his authority and violated Warren’s First Amendment rights, and it asks the court to restore Warren to his elected office, his attorney, J. Cabou of Perkins Coie, said at a news conference.
“The courts have been very clear that the First Amendment protects elected officials, just like it protects all of us, and to some extent protects elected officials even to a greater degree because it is the job of an elected official to speak out on matters of public importance so that the voters who elect them can judge their criteria,” Cabou said.
Warren, a Democrat, was first elected state attorney for Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit in 2016.
“By challenging this illegal abuse of power, we can make sure that no governor can toss out the results of an election because he doesn’t like the outcome,” Warren said, adding he was blindsided by the Aug. 4 suspension and escorted from his office by an armed deputy.
Warren and other prosecutors signed a statement that they wouldn’t use their offices to pursue criminal cases involving abortion or gender transition treatments. In response, DeSantis issued an executive order that led to Warren’s suspension.
Causes of Action: Violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution; Quo Warranto under Florida State Law.
Relief: Declaration that defendant’s conduct is unconstitutional and exceeds his authority. Order DeSantis to rescind the suspension and reinstate Warren as state attorney, and enjoin the governor from retaliating against Warren. Attorneys’ fees and costs.
Response: DeSantis’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The case is Warren v. DeSantis, N.D. Fla., No. 4:22-cv-00302, complaint filed 8/17/22
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