Suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren announced on Monday that he will not seek reelection due to concerns that Gov. Ron DeSantis might suspend him again and appoint a political substitute.
Suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren announced on Monday that he will not seek a third term in office, despite opening a campaign account in October.
Warren’s decision is largely attributed to concerns that if he were reelected, Gov. Ron DeSantis might again suspend him and appoint a political substitute, according to transmitted communications.
“I have been planning to run for re-election since the day I was suspended. But the governor has made clear that he does not care about the will of the voters or our democracy, and that he is willing to break state and federal law to keep me from serving as State Attorney,” Warren said. “Donald Trump said he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and get away with it. Ron DeSantis, trying to out-Trump Trump, shot democracy in the middle of our courthouse—and he’s gotten away with it.”
In August 2022, DeSantis accused Warren of incompetence and abandonment of duty when he was dismissed from office via Executive Order. Notably, the governor claimed that Warren pledged not to enforce the state’s recently passed abortion law, as well as signed letters stating that he would not enforce laws prohibiting sex changes for minors. The suspension has been highly politicized and seen as a flagship moment of action for DeSantis, who directly referenced his removal of Warren during a Republican primary debate.
In a September 2022 interview with Warren, The Capitolist inquired about potential future runs for office, which Warren dismissed, electing to focus on the political shockwaves of his suspension.
During the interview, Warren criticized the timing of his suspension, suggesting that it was predicated on what he referred to as DeSantis’ political ambition to run for president.
“The Governor has made clear that he is focused not on the needs of Floridians, not on the safety of our communities … but on running for President in 2024,” Warren said. “That’s what this is about. A political stunt to further his political ambition.”
In January, a federal lawsuit seeking to reappoint Warren was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. In issuing the order, however, Hinkle noted that DeSantis violated Warren’s First Amendment rights, but that he was unable to preside over the case due to the 11th Amendment of the Constitution, which states that the Judicial power of the United States can’t extend to any suit dealing with state law.
“Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended elected State Attorney Andrew H. Warren, ostensibly on the ground that Mr. Warren had blanket policies not to prosecute certain kinds of cases,” wrote Hinkle in his order. “The allegation was false. Mr. Warren’s well-established policy, followed in every case by every prosecutor in the office, was to exercise prosecutorial discretion at every stage of every case. Any reasonable investigation would have confirmed this.”
Following an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, Warren’s case was dismissed after the justices cited an “unreasonable delay.”
The Court noted that Warren had filed a lawsuit in federal court shortly after his suspension, seeking a writ of quo warranto (a legal action to challenge someone’s right to hold office) based on the claim that the suspension order was insufficient under Florida law. However, when the federal court dismissed the challenge, Warren waited close to five months before filing the petition with the state Supreme Court, with Justices claiming they were not provided with any explanation for the delay. The court concluded that considering the circumstances, it was too late for them to review the case.
“[Warren] waited almost five months before finally petitioning this Court and requesting our “expeditious review” of his state-law claim”, said Justice Charles Canady in his written opinion. ” [The] Petitioner offers no explanation for the delay. We conclude that, under the circumstances of this case, the time for our review has passed.”
The opinion further explained that the power to suspend state officers, like Warren, is granted to the Governor under Article IV, Section 7 of the Florida Constitution, further elucidating that while the courts have a limited role in reviewing suspension orders, the primary check on the Governor’s actions is the Senate, which has the power to remove or reinstate suspended officials.