TAMPA, Fla. - The Florida Senate has given suspended Hillsborough County
State Attorney Andrew Warren 15 days to request a Senate hearing that
could determine whether he is reinstated or removed from office.
The Senate sent a letter Monday, stemming from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ move
Aug. 4 to suspend Warren. DeSantis cited a pledge by the twice-elected
state attorney to not enforce a new law preventing abortions after 15
weeks of pregnancy.
Warren was among 90 prosecutors from across the country that signed on to
the pledge after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the US Supreme Court. The
governor also points towards Warren’s commitment not to criminalize minors
who have sex change operations.
"There is no issue before my desk regarding abortion, gender-affirming
healthcare, in fact, the abortion law in question has been ruled
unconstitutional, and the transgender statement there’s no law on the
books," Warren said. "This is Orwellian thought police where I’m being
punished for not enforcing the law that doesn’t even exist. It’s hard to
Warren, a Democrat, has vowed to fight DeSantis’ effort to ultimately
remove him from office, with the Senate having authority under state law
to hold a hearing and make a decision.
"If you request a hearing, you will receive a notice of hearing before a
special master or committee containing the date, time, and location of the
hearing," Debbie Brown, secretary of the Senate, wrote in the certified
letter Monday to Warren. "If you do not wish to have a hearing, you may
submit your resignation to the governor’s office."
Warren will have 15 days to respond from when he receives the letter.
Brown also wrote that a Senate process would be held in "abeyance" if
Warren decides to launch a court challenge.
The governor has since appointed Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to
serve in Warren's place. She has reversed several enforcement policies
that were put in place by Warren, including the controversial bike-stop
policy opponents accused of being racist.
Lopez served 17 years as a prosecutor at the Hillsborough state attorney's
office, the same office she is now in charge of.
In a memo sent to her employees this week, Lopez wrote, "effective
immediately, any policy my predecessor put in place that called for
presumptive non-enforcement of the laws of Florida is immediately
rescinded. This includes the bike stop and pedestrian stop policy."
When Warren was asked if he had ever seen a case where a governor removes
a twice-elected state attorney, he responded with a smirk and quipped.
"Yes, in Russia and Venezuela in North Korea I’m sure it happens all the
time," he said. "This is totally unprecedented for America."
Warren said he is putting together his legal team and expects to have a
legal response soon.