Fighting back against what critics called "absolutely insane" and "outrageous overreach," suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday over Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' attempt to oust him from elected office.
"Even though Ron DeSantis is governor, the First Amendment still has meaning, Florida's constitution still has meaning, and elections and democracy still have meaning."
Citing Warren's support for a pair of joint statements from the national network Fair and Just Prosecution (FJP) about abortion rights and healthcare for transgender people, DeSantis earlier this month issued a suspension order for Warren and appointed Susan Lopez as the prosecutor for Florida's 13th Judicial Circuit, which covers Hillsborough County.
In a video statement posted on Twitter, Warren said that he came to Tallahassee early Wednesday to challenge DeSantis' "blatant abuse of power."
"The governor has broken two laws," he explained. "He's violated my First Amendment rights by retaliating against me for speaking out on abortion and transgender rights, and he's violated the Florida Constitution by removing me from office without any legal justification, throwing out the results of a fair and free election."
"We filed a lawsuit to make sure that even though Ron DeSantis is governor, the First Amendment still has meaning, Florida's constitution still has meaning, and elections and democracy still have meaning," Warren declared, echoing the language of his complaint.
The complaint states that "Warren brings this lawsuit to confirm that the First Amendment still applies even though DeSantis is the governor of Florida and that the Constitution of the state of Florida means what the courts say it means, not whatever DeSantis needs it to mean to silence his critics, promote his loyalists, and subvert the will of the voters."
In response to Warren's Wednesday appearance on CNN to discuss the development, DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske said: "It's not surprising Warren, who was suspended for refusing to follow the law, would file a legally baseless lawsuit challenging his suspension. We look forward to responding in court."
FJP executive director Miriam Krinsky on Wednesday reiterated the network's support for Warren, applauding him "for taking legal action to vindicate the interests of the voters in his community, who twice supported the commonsense reforms he campaigned on and has implemented over the past six years."
Blasting the suspension as "nothing more than an authoritarian takeover of the office motivated by the governor's own political agenda," she said that DeSantis—who is widely expected to seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2024—fired Warren "for being transparent with his community about the values and priorities that guide him as he exercises well-established prosecutorial discretion and for making decisions that other prosecutors in Florida implement every day."
"If these are grounds for removal, we'd be hard-pressed to find any elected prosecutor whose job is safe from the governor's tyrannical whims," she added. "This craven power grab undermines the freedom of the people of Florida, which Gov. DeSantis frequently claims to be committed to defending. We hope the court recognizes this abuse of power for what it is and acts immediately to vindicate the rights of the Hillsborough County community and reinstate Andrew Warren to his role as their duly elected state attorney."
This content originally appeared on Common Dreams - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community and was authored by Jessica Corbett.