A federal judge has turned down embattled Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren’s request to be reinstated as the court decides whether Gov. Ron DeSantis rightfully suspended him.
Judge Robert Hinkle on Monday ruled against Warren, a rising Democrat who DeSantis suspended last month as the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit over his statement on abortion. However, Hinkle didn’t appear sympathetic to the case presented by attorneys for the Republican Governor. Rather, Hinkle signaled he didn’t want to disrupt the operations of the Hillsborough circuit.
Warren contends DeSantis overstepped his authority and violated Warren’s First Amendment right to speak his mind on public policy by suspending him as the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit.
DeSantis suspended Warren for his statement that he wouldn’t prosecute women who seek abortions or doctors who furnish them in the wake of the Dobbs decision from the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Additionally, DeSantis has targeted Warren’s stance on gender-affirming surgery.
“This is a fight to finally hold the governor accountable,” Warren said in a news release Sunday. “We are fighting to make sure our elections have meaning — to make sure no one can silence the people’s voice or steal their votes.”
DeSantis has appointed County Judge Susan Lopez as Warren’s replacement.
“Andrew Warren has put himself publicly above the law,” DeSantis said last month. “The Constitution of Florida has vested the veto power in the Governor, not an individual State Attorney.”
But Warren, who has been elected and re-elected in Hillsborough County, argues that he answers to his constituents, not the Governor.
Attorneys for DeSantis and the state had previously requested Hinkle dismiss the case. However, Hinkle, the Senior Judge of the federal Northern District of Florida, allowed the case to proceed.
“Mr. Warren had no First Amendment right, as a public official, to declare that he would not perform his duties under Florida law,” state Solicitor General Henry Whitaker wrote in the 39-page filing for DeSantis earlier this month.
On Monday, Warren grilled DeSantis’ lawyers and didn’t appear convinced by their case. Warren is calling for his trial to be scheduled soon.
Judge Hinkle denies motion for preliminary injunction to reinstate Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, who was suspended by @GovRonDeSantis . But the judge grilled Desantis’ lawyers and didn’t seem convinced of their case. Wants trial soon.
— Gray Rohrer (@GrayRohrer) September 19, 2022