Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday placed State Attorney Andrew Warren on suspension for the liberal-leaning lawyer’s refusal to enforce the state’s ban on abortions, according to an announcement from DeSantis’ office.
The suspension of Warren – who was elected as State Attorney of Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County in November 2016 and re-elected in November 2020 – was first announced by DeSantis himself during a live social media press conference on Thursday morning, citing his alleged “neglect of duty.”
DeSantis noted that Warren had repeatedly declined to enforce state laws pertaining to childhood sex reassignment surgery, in addition to new state restrictions placed upon abortions after 15 weeks following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade.
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“It’s been a very, very troubling record,” DeSantis said of Warren’s tenure in office. “They’re literally chopping off the private parts of kids.”
DeSantis also announced that he had appointed Susan Lopez to serve as State Attorney for the period of Warren’s suspension.
“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 said. “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.”
Following DeSantis’ announcement, Lopez – who most recently been serving as a Judge on the Hillsborough County Court – said that she takes her new responsibility very seriously.
“I have the utmost respect for our state laws and I understand the important role that the State Attorney plays in ensuring the safety of our community and the enforcement of our laws,” she said. “I want to thank the Governor for placing his trust in me, and I promise that I will faithfully execute the duties of this office.”
The Florida Governor has the authority to suspend state officials for reasons of “misfeasance, malfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony,” in addition to the ability to appoint a replacement to that office for the duration of the suspension.
However, Warren’s suspension – the duration of which has not yet been revealed – does not constitute a permanent removal from his position, and he has the ability to contest his punishment and potentially be reinstated to his office.