Governor’s Response To Lawsuit Called ‘Poor Defense’ By State Attorney
TAMPA, FL — Following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ movement for the federal court docket to throw out a lawsuit towards him filed by ousted Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, Warren is making ready to submit a response to the court docket by Friday.
On Friday night, state Solicitor General Henry C. Whitaker filed a 39-page response to Warren’s lawsuit on behalf of DeSantis.
In the movement for dismissal, Whitaker acknowledged that Warren was “not suspended for the views he expressed but for the conduct he announced.”
“Mr. Warren had no First Amendment right, as a public official, to declare that he would not perform his duties under Florida law,” Whitaker wrote within the response submitted to federal court docket Judge Robert Hinkle, who’s overseeing the lawsuit filed by Warren.
“At bottom, this case does not warrant federal court intervention in a quintessentially state matter: the governor’s constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and the state’s constitutional process for removing wayward officials who refuse to faithfully execute those laws,” Whitaker said in the motion.
Warren promptly replied, saying he was not impressed with DeSantis’ legal arguments.
“This is a poor defense of an indefensible abuse of power,” Warren mentioned in a press release. “The undeniable fact that taxpayers proceed to foot the invoice for this makes it much more shameful.”
On Aug. 4, DeSantis issued an executive order of suspension eradicating Warren from his twice-elected position because the state legal professional for Hillsborough County “attributable to neglect of responsibility, incompetence and willful defiance of his duties as early as June 2021 when he signed a joint assertion with different elected prosecutors in assist of gender-transition therapies for youngsters and toilet utilization based mostly on gender identification.”
DeSantis also took Warren to task for signing a pledge not to prosecute doctors and women involved in abortions that violate the state’s 15-week ban, a ban that DeSantis championed and the 2022 Legislature passed.
Currently, there is no Florida law making gender-transition treatments illegal and Florida’s 15-week abortion ban and Florida health care providers are seeking a review in the Florida Supreme Court of their challenge to the state’s ban.
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Calling DeSantis’ suspension illegal, Warren filed a suit contending that his suspension violated his First Amendment rights and demanding that he be reinstated as state attorney.
DeSantis’ response comes after three briefs were filed last week, signed by 183 legal experts, former Supreme Court justices and Florida constitutional scholars, confirming that DeSantis’ suspension of Warren from office was illegal.
Included was a brief submitted by members of Florida’s 1997-98 Constitution Revision Commission, who were responsible for amending the section of the Florida Constitution that DeSantis is now using as justification for removing Warren from office.
The commission members said “the governor’s allegations towards (Warren) are nowhere close to ample” to meet the standards they laid out when they revised that portion of the constitution 25 years ago.
In his executive order, DeSantis claimed Warren’s public opposition to his policies constitutes “neglect of responsibility” and “incompetence,” two of the legal reasons under the state constitution for suspending an elected official from office.
The commission members said that claim is an overreach that flies in the face of the limited power they intended when they revised the constitution. They maintained that a difference of opinion does not meet the legal definition for either neglect of duty or incompetence.
“Andrew Warren exercised his First Amendment proper to state opinions which are opposite to the governor’s opinions on a number of coverage points,” the commission wrote. “The order doesn’t even allege that Warren has acted on these opinions. Without such motion, he can not have dedicated one of many sins that may authorize the governor to droop him beneath settled Florida constitutional regulation.”
Hinkle has scheduled a Sept. 19 listening to in Tallahassee to listen to arguments within the Warren lawsuit and decide.
In the meantime, the Republican-dominated Florida Senate is holding off affirming DeSantis’ suspension of Warren till the lawsuit is settled.
The undeniable fact that the Senate hasn’t formally affirmed or rescinded DeSantis’ order as required by the state structure places the legality of selections made by Susan Lopez, appointed by DeSantis to switch Warren as Hillsborough County state legal professional, in question.