In an announcement on Thursday, DeSantis said he sent state law enforcement officers to remove State Attorney Andrew Warren of the 13th Judicial Circuit from office for his "militant agenda" and refusal to enforce duly-passed laws he disagrees with.
“State Attorneys have a duty to prosecute crimes as defined in Florida law, not to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on his personal agenda,” DeSantis noted in a statement. “It is my duty to hold Florida’s elected officials to the highest standards for the people of Florida. I have the utmost trust that Judge Susan Lopez will lead the office through this transition and faithfully uphold the rule of law.”
According to his order: “As of the signing of this Executive Order, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by other law enforcement agencies as necessary, is requested to: (i) assist in the immediate transition of Andrew Warren from the Office of the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit of Florida, with access only to retrieve his personal belongings; and (ii) ensure that no files, papers, documents, notes, records, computers, or removable storage media are removed from the Office of the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit of Florida by Andrew Warren or any of his staff.”
Warren was removed following an assessment of state attorneys by DeSantis' office, which found that in June the DA vowed not to charge abortion patients or their physicians who illegally perform abortions after the state's 15-week ban.
“We had the individual here from Hillsborough County say and signed letters that there are certain laws he just won’t enforce and won’t prosecute,” DeSantis told Fox News exclusively following a press conference announcing the suspension.
“States attorneys that put their ideology over the rule of law are not satisfying their oath of office,” said DeSantis, himself a Harvard-education lawyer and Yale graduate who served as a judge advocate in the U.S. Navy and an assistant U.S. Attorney.
In a tweet last month, Warren wrote: “The 15-week ban is unconstitutional on its face. Tallahassee knew it when it passed the bill hoping judges will ignore the privacy right in FL Constitution.”
“I put my hand on the Bible and swore to defend the US & Florida Constitutions. Florida’s Constitution has a privacy right that clearly covers abortion. While Tallahassee tries to circumvent the law, I will uphold the law and protect our freedom,” he added.
The 15-week ban is unconstitutional on its face. Tallahassee knew it when it passed the bill hoping judges will ignore the privacy right in FL Constitution.
Beware of the hypocritical “textualist” who wants the law strictly limited to the words on the page only when convenient. https://t.co/OHqv71BOeD
— Andrew Warren (@AndrewWarrenFL) June 30, 2022
However, during a press conference Thursday, the governor also said that Warren has refused on a number of occasions to enforce laws by the legislature that crack down on child sex-change operations as well as other abortion restrictions.
As part of his suspension order, DeSantis tapped Hillsborough County Court Judge Lopez to replace Warren.
DeSantis defended his action, telling Fox News: “I do think that some of these prosecutors that have a very militant agenda in terms of ideology have been able to get away with a lot in other states. … We’ve had prosecutors around this country that think they can pick and choose which laws to enforce.”
The state attorney “may have thought, because they get away with it in Los Angeles, they get away with it in Baltimore, that he could do this stuff in Florida,” DeSantis added. “Not on my watch … We’re going to take action, decisive action, to protect the people of the state.”