Andrew Warren learns the cost of challenging Ron DeSantis

Andre Warren has consistently posted an independent streak since becoming Tampa’s 13th Judicial Circuit State’s Attorney in 2016. While many may consider this refreshing, it’s a liability when Ron DeSantis is (sort of) your boss.

The Governor suffers no dissent, especially in an election year, and there are consequences for anyone who forgets. Warren found out forcefully on Thursday when DeSantis announced he was suspending Warren from office for “negligence of duty”.

Warren must have known he was in DeSantis’ crosshairs. After the United States Supreme Court dismissed Roe v. Wade and made the ruling on abortion law in the United States, Warren spoke out.

He said he would not press charges against women who had abortions or his doctor. Florida has banned abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“The 15-week ban, which criminalizes in certain circumstances private medical decisions made between a woman and her doctor, does not protect public safety,” Warren said in late June. “What he’s doing is arbitrarily choosing when the state takes away our freedom, making it a crime for a woman to do what’s best for her family and for the doctors and nurses in do what is best for their patients.”

Given DeSantis’ “my way or another” stance, Warren probably could have started cleaning up his desk at that point. Warren may have made himself a hero for abortion rights advocates, but he’s also become a target.

“State prosecutors have a duty to prosecute crimes as defined in Florida law, not to choose which laws to apply based on one’s personal agenda,” DeSantis said Thursday. “It is my duty to hold Florida’s elected officials to the highest standards for the people of Florida.”

DeSantis has the only “personal agenda” that matters in this administration.

Whether you think Warren is right or not, DeSantis is within his rights to take that action. It is not for any state attorney to decide that Florida’s abortion law is draconian and cruel (which it is). That’s the job of the court, which are the rules we follow.

Warren was probably on a watch list long before that.

After the riots all over Florida sequel by George Floyd died in 2020, Warren showed a little more independence. He dropped charges against 67 protesters in Tampa after they were arrested for unlawful assembly.

I said several times that criminal justice reform involves seeing each case as a problem to be solved, not just a person to be punished,” Warren said then.

“In these cases of unlawful assembly, there is no value in filing a complaint. Prosecuting people for exercising their First Amendment rights creates problems rather than solving them. This can weaken the bonds between law enforcement and the community while undermining trust in our system.

DeSantis, of course, pushed for a strict “riot” law allowing even peaceful protesters to be arrested if the police decided to do so. A federal judge ruled it unconstitutional and the state is appealing.

With his gubernatorial campaign in full swing and a potential 2024 presidential bid on the line, DeSantis wants that “law and order” label.

Check the boxes: tough on crime (any crime), no negotiation on abortion or transgender rights, yadda yadda yadda.

There’s no room in the Governor’s world for the kind of measured nuance that Warren brought to the job.

So, Warren is out, and while he may appeal, he probably won’t win.

That’s the risk you take when you challenge DeSantis.


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