Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended a county state attorney who vowed not to enforce state laws, such as prosecuting women seeking an abortion or doctors who perform them.
DeSantis, a Republican, made the announcement to remove Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren during a Thursday morning press conference.
"We don’t elect people in one part of the state to have veto power over what the entire state decides on these important issues," DeSantis said. "The Constitution of Florida has vested the veto power in the governor, not in individual state attorneys.
"And so, when you flagrantly violate your oath of office and you make yourself above the law, you have violated your duty, you have neglected your duty, and you are displaying a lack of competence to perform those duties. And so, today, we are suspending State Attorney Andrew Warren effective immediately."
DeSantis said that after he saw prosecutors around the country undermine public safety by choosing not to enforce the law, he told his staff to "look around the state of Florida and to make sure that that was not going to happen here.”
DeSantis said Florida law enforcement officials and prosecutors pointed to the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County.
"The response that we got was a lot of frustration on the part of law enforcement for criminals being let go and crimes not being prosecuted," he said. "So we looked into it and we compiled a lot of the record, and, I can tell you, it has been a very troubling record."
"We are a government of laws, not of men,” he added.
The Supreme Court on June 24 overturned the controversial 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling creating a constitutional right to an abortion, sending the issue back to the states to regulate.
After the Supreme Court's decision in a Mississippi case, Warren was among 83 elected prosecutors nationwide who signed a letter pledging not to prosecute those who seek, provide, or support abortions, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
"When I became State Attorney, I put my hand on a Bible, and I swore to God that I would defend the U.S. and Florida Constitutions, and I intend to do so," Warren said, the Times reported.
"This 15-week ban is an unconstitutional law. The Legislature is hoping courts ignore the Florida constitution. But I'm upholding the law and protecting the fundamental rights of all Floridians."
DeSantis also said that Warren signed a June 2021 letter saying he "would not enforce any prohibitions on sex-change opreations for minors."
DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw on Wednesday night predicted a “liberal meltdown” after the governor’s “major” announcement on Thursday.
"MAJOR announcement tomorrow morning from @GovRonDeSantis. Prepare for the liberal media meltdown of the year Everyone get some rest tonight," Pushaw tweeted, complete with emojis.
DeSantis in April signed an abortion law that provides no exceptions for victims of rape, incest, or human trafficking. The law, which went into effect July 1, bans abortions after 15 weeks, except in cases when the mother could face serious injury or death or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality.
Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper on July 5 issued a temporary injunction to block the law, finding that it violated the Florida Constitution. That injunction, however, was put on hold when the state appealed, CBS Miami reported.
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