- Just a day after suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren filed a lawsuit to challenge his suspension, the Florida Senate has temporarily stopped its process to consider removing Warren
- Senate President Sen. Wilton Simpson stated in a memo to all state senators that in compliance with the state Constitution, the process will be placed on hold while the lawsuit is active
- According to the Florida Constitution, once the governor takes executive action to suspend an elected official, the Florida Senate deliberates the suspension and decides whether to uphold the measure or reinstate the official
- Simpson also advised lawmakers to refrain from publicly speaking about the lawsuit
Less than 24 hours after suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren announced that he filed a lawsuit to challenge his removal, the Florida Senate has temporarily halted its process to consider removing Warren, and Senate President Wilton Simpson cautioned senators to about making public comments on the case, given the collective constitutional role of the Florida Senate in the suspension process.
The Florida Constitution outlines a process in which the governor can suspend an elected official for very specific and limited reasons. Once adjudicated by the governor, the Florida Senate reviews the suspension and determines whether to remove or reinstate the official. Senate rules dictate that this process be placed on hold while any lawsuit challenging the suspension is ongoing.
“I have directed that any Senate proceedings regarding Executive Order of Suspension 22-176 be held in abeyance until a final determination in this pending litigation has been rendered,” wrote Simpson in a memorandum to all state senators.
“Senate Rule 12.9 states, in relevant part, that the Senate process shall be held in abeyance and the matter shall not be considered by the Senate until a final determination of a court challenge and the exhaustion of all appellate remedies,” concluded Simpson.
Governor Ron DeSantis in early August announced an executive order suspending Warren due to a “neglect of duty” after Warren signed a pledge not to enforce the state’s recently-passed 15-week abortion restriction law, as well as signing simiilar pledges stating that he would also not enforce laws prohibiting sex changes for minors, if such a law were passed in Florida.
“Ron DeSantis is trying to overturn democracy in Florida,” said Warren upon his suspension. “His plot to suspend me violates the most fundamental basis of our democracy: your vote. I’ve been elected twice as a state attorney. I was elected because the people of this county share my vision for criminal justice, trust my judgment, and see our success. I swore to uphold the Constitution, and that’s what I’ve done.”
The lawsuit makes two central claims—that DeSantis’ act violated Warren’s right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution and exceeded DeSantis’ authority as governor under Florida law. It asks a judge to compel the governor to rescind his illegal order, restore Warren to office and prohibit DeSantis from taking similar illegal actions against Warren in the future.