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DeSantis seeks dismissal of suit by Andrew Warren

Hillsborough State Attorney's Office

Gov. Ron DeSantis wants a federal judge to throw out a free speech lawsuit filed by a Democratic prosecutor he suspended from office over statements about not pursuing criminal charges in abortion, transgender rights and certain low-level cases.

The Republican governor told U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle of Tallahassee in a filing late Friday that Andrew Warren _ removed last month as elected state attorney in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa _ cannot claim First Amendment protection for his comments on how he would handle these hot-button political issues.

Warren put out a statement after DeSantis made his legal move.

“This is a poor defense of an indefensible abuse of power," he said. "The fact that taxpayers continue to foot the bill for this makes it even more shameful.”

Warren is a Democrat who was elected twice by Tampa-area voters. He narrowly unseated the longtime county prosecutor Mark Ober in 2016, and won with 53% of the vote in 2020.

Warren had signed onto public statements with about 80 other prosecutors across the country, supporting gender transition treatments for children and making it a crime for a woman's decision to have an abortion.

A hearing is set Sept. 10 on Warren's lawsuit.

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Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.