OPINION: DeSantis upholds the law against Andrew Warren

Despite having every legal right to do so, Gov. Ron DeSantis was met with backlash upon suspending State Prosecution Attorney Andrew Warren. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/FLICKR

Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended State Prosecution Attorney Andrew Warren of Tampa, citing “neglect of duty” after Warren signed a statement with other prosecutors declaring they would not uphold HB 5.

Many people have argued that DeSantis cannot lawfully suspend Warren. Yet legally, he has every right to.

The statement that Warren and other prosecution attorneys signed said they would not prosecute any abortion crimes. Florida HB 5, also known as the “15 Week Abortion Ban,” makes it a crime to have an abortion past the 15-week mark unless physicians approve that one is necessary to save the pregnant person’s life. DeSantis responded to this by suspending Warren.  

Warren was not very happy about this. He was so upset that he went to Twitter to express his feelings.  

On Aug. 17, Warren announced he is now suing DeSantis. In the video, Warren said the governor is violating his First Amendment right and “retaliating against me for speaking out on abortion.”

He compared DeSantis to a “Marxist dictatorship” in an Aug. 18 tweet. He makes numerous tweets attempting to discredit the governor.


Some of Warren’s supporters have showcased their beliefs. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor stated in a press release on the day of the suspension that “the governor’s actions constitute an extreme abuse of power.” Yet, Warren abused his power as a law enforcer by saying he would not uphold the law.

An MSNBC column stated that DeSantis removed Warren simply for having a different opinion. However, DeSantis’ motives were not questioned when he suspended Sheriff Scott Israel.

In January 2019, the governor suspended Israel for not taking necessary precautions with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter. The sheriff’s office of Broward County had a total of 21 concerning interactions with the shooter and did not report any of the mishaps.

On the day of the shooting, Israel held his officers back from going into the school, allowing the shooter plenty of time inside.

In response, DeSantis suspended the sheriff on account of failure to “faithfully perform the duties” as a sheriff. DeSantis later replaced him with Gregory Tony, the first African American Sheriff of Broward County.

DeSantis’ suspensions are unbiased, he removes individual law enforcers who fail to do their duty.

The signed statement defying HB 5 blatantly goes against what Florida law says is a crime. The governor can suspend Warren, according to Article IV of the Florida Constitution. It states that the governor must make sure the laws be “faithfully executed” and “may suspend any state officer” for “malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, incompetence” and many other reasons.

Warren fulfills the “neglect of duty” requirement by pleading he will not prosecute any abortion crimes. The public statement Warren signed goes beyond discretion. He has a right to believe what he chooses, but when he goes to work, his job is to uphold the law, not defy it.

The Standard 3-1.6 of the American Bar Association states that “a prosecutor should strive to eliminate implicit biases, and act to mitigate any improper bias or prejudice when credibly informed that it exists within the scope of the prosecutor’s authority.” Even though Warren’s opinion is pro-choice, this must not hinder his authority to uphold the law.

The American Bar Association also states that “the primary duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice within the borders of the law.” Warren declared he would not seek justice concerning the legal requirements set by HB 5.  

In the Aug. 4 suspension order, the governor said as a result of “his blatant defiance of the Florida Legislature, Warren can no longer be trusted to fulfill his oath of office and his duty to see that Florida law is faithfully executed.”

DeSantis rightfully upheld the law against Israel, and he did it again with Warren when he put his personal feelings and beliefs above the law. The standard cannot become law enforcers manipulating their duty. As a state attorney, enforcing the law comes before personal bias.