Joe Henderson: Freedom of speech is Andrew Warren’s argument to keep his job
Andrew Warren will soon get his day in court.

Warren DeSantis
Can Warren be suspended for something he talked about but never did?

Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren over something he said — not something he did.

The move was as divisive as it was decisive, but that’s the field where DeSantis excels. He tolerates no dissent from those who would deviate from his orders. Too often, he seems intent on remaking the “free” state of Florida into a personal fiefdom for himself and his followers.

But unlike many others who crossed paths with the Governor, Warren did more than start looking on LinkedIn for a new gig. He likes the job he was elected to twice before the suspension.

He wants it back.

Like DeSantis, Warren has a law degree.

Unlike DeSantis, Warren believes the First Amendment protects his right to speak against the Governor’s abortion and transgender restrictions. He made that case Wednesday, filing a federal lawsuit to overturn the suspension.

In June, Warren signed a petition with other prosecutors around the country saying he wouldn’t prosecute abortion or transgender cases. He maintains his office had no cases involving either topic since then. That makes DeSantis’ action look like political payback for daring to differ on policy.

In announcing the suspension before what looked like an old-style campaign rally, DeSantis used the words “incompetency” and “neglect of duty” to describe Warren.

But, Warren argues, how could he neglect something that never happened? That’s a potentially important distinction.

His lawsuit states, “By his Order, the Governor has suspended Warren for alleged ‘incompetence’ and ‘neglect of duty.’ These terms have plain meanings that the courts have defined and that are not malleable at the whim of DeSantis.”

DeSantis sure seems to spend a lot of time and money defending controversial — and maybe illegal — laws and mandates.

“In our country, there are protections for freedoms and limits on power. Ron DeSantis may not like them. He may not respect them. But he does have to follow them,” Warren said.

Florida law clearly lays out the duties of State Attorneys.

Among other things, it says, “The state attorney shall appear in the circuit and county courts within his or her judicial circuit and prosecute or defend on behalf of the state all suits, applications, or motions, civil or criminal, in which the state is a party” with a few exceptions.

However, the First Amendment is also clear.

It says Congress can pass no law abridging the freedom of speech,” which means neither Florida nor DeSantis can do that either.

As a Congressman in 2013, DeSantis introduced the James Madison Congressional Accountability Act to stop aspects of Obamacare.

He also noted in a 2018 Facebook post that as one of the Founding Fathers, Madison was a champion of freedom.

“America has set the example,” Madison said, “… of charters of power granted by liberty.”

DeSantis clearly admires and studied Madison. So, I’m sure he knows what else Madison favored.

In his essay for the National Review, writer Jay Cost said Madison believed freedom of speech was essential.

“In Madison’s view, a free republic depends ultimately upon public opinion. A Constitution could divide power this way and that, but in the end, it is the people, and only the people, who rule,” he wrote.

“And for the people to rule wisely, they have to be able to communicate with one another — freely, without fear of reprisal.”

Isn’t reprisal what this is all about?

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Tom

    August 17, 2022 at 7:43 pm

    Amongst other first amendment restrictions, you can’t tell “fire” in a theater. Nor can you make threats at airports or on planes.

    Spare us Joe. My goodness what a bleeding heart! Warren is a soros Manchurian. He reaped what he sewed. He signed the letter on abortion.

    Fed ct of appeals will not rule in his favor is fed judge favors it. Bring it to the supremes, justice Clarence is awaiting. No chance.
    He’d be better off taking it to state Senate for appeal.

    Warren is a fraud.

    • Elliott Offen

      August 17, 2022 at 7:45 pm

      ^ Barely legible gibberish, schizophrenic nonsense, buncha far right poo poo propaganda. Needs talk therapy….

      • Tom

        August 18, 2022 at 9:22 pm

        You Elliot ignorant, illiterate
        Phone home, LMAO.

  • Joe Corsin

    August 17, 2022 at 7:43 pm

    Vote RED for right wing police state, cameras on every corner, and drone patrols
    Vote RED for civil rights violations out the yin yang
    Vote RED for buying police votes with bonus payments
    Vote RED for one felony and you might as well move out of the country
    Vote RED for life sentences without parole for simple DUI
    Vote RED for forced birth of meth babies and crack babies AkA prison fodder

    • Tom

      August 17, 2022 at 8:32 pm

      Total mental retardation.
      Idiot Elliot, phone home LMAO,
      Corsin can’t smack ass, everyone knows your mental Alex.

      It’s pretty clear, you cannot “yell” fire in theatre.

      Warren and any other state elected official or local do not get to enforce or choose what to enforce. They are to enforce all.

      Warren is a fraud, he gots what’s he deserves! This fake outrage is a joke!
      Warren has no chance. His first amendment rights don’t get silence anyone else’s.

      He is an idiot, the price you pay for being a soros Manchurian boot licker.

      • Joe Corsin

        August 17, 2022 at 9:09 pm

        ^ More diarrhea of the mind, silly dung, disorganized nonsense. A middle school kid is more composed, more eloquent, and better able to communicate on the internet. The mind…the mind has been neglected and abused.

        • Tom

          August 17, 2022 at 9:15 pm

          Licking Soros Manchurian idiots, corsin.

          • Joe Corsin

            August 17, 2022 at 9:23 pm

            Nobody has a clue what that means. Means nothing…buncha GD nonsense!😆

      • JD

        August 17, 2022 at 9:24 pm

        Tom, so you are advocating punishing those that don’t believe in the same ideology as you? And it’s justified? Because that’s what our Democratic Republic was built upon?

        Where has he broken a law to warrant punishment? Where has he been a derelict of duty?

        For all intent and purpose, his track record seemed pretty good at his job. Because he disagreed politically and ideologically he was punished? And as a prosecutor with limited resources, he does have every mandate to decide where to spend those scarce resources.

        It’s the same punitive abuse of power that was used on Disney for exercising their first amendment rights. If the shoe was on the other foot, GOP people would be outraged.

        Kettle black and it will come back to haunt them all.

        • Jerry

          August 18, 2022 at 12:15 am

          Conservatives are being fired and cancelled left and right for having the audacity to question the government. You didn’t care about the freedom of speech then!

          Warren publicly declared he was not going to follow the laws passed by the legislature (elected by democracy) and signed by the governor (who was elected by democracy).

          • Elliott Offen

            August 18, 2022 at 7:31 am

            You have the freedom to say whatever you wish but if it’s stupid or repulsive then other’s have the freedom to let you know. That’s how it works.

          • JD

            August 18, 2022 at 8:08 am

            Don’t assume I didn’t care about it when done. But I don’t care how people vote with their votes or their wallets however in aggregate.

            And the laws passed need to be put to a public referendum and we see how the “majority” feels about the subject.

            Excerpt from the open joint letter he signed and he is within his duties and “settled discretion.”

            “But we stand together in our firm belief that prosecutors have a responsibility to refrain from using limited criminal legal system resources to criminalize personal medical decisions. As such, we decline to use our offices’ resources to criminalize reproductive health decisions and commit to exercise our well settled discretion and refrain from prosecuting those who seek, provide, or support abortions.”

            This is a punitive political move, which is why it was showcased with a press conference for that mileage. Pandering.

  • Itz DeEssence

    August 17, 2022 at 8:16 pm

    “Warren believes the First Amendment protects his right to speak against the Governor’s abortion and transgender restrictions.”
    You are showing us the essence of “fake news”–deliberately misstating an issue. Warren can “speak against” the sun rising in the East if he wishes, but what he actually did in this case is stake his honor on a promise NOT to enforce the law of the state under whose government he is employed. He did not say, “Gee, there may be some circumstances in which. . .” He just said he would not enforce the law, period. Think about it this way, Joe: suppose you told FLAPOL that effective immediately you were going to write ONLY things flattering to Republicans and conservatives and ignore anything that flattered Democrats and Progressives, regardless of circumstances, and that you did not care what the hell they thought about it, they were just going to have to honor your right and keep paying you.. They would fire you, wouldn’t they? No difference. It’s called “insubordination.”

  • ScienceBLVR

    August 17, 2022 at 9:18 pm

    This seems to be DeSantis’s schickt..kind of the, “Just shut up and dribble” without the dribble. How many Floridians will have to fall victim to the governor’s incompetence and neglect of duty..the duty to uphold the Constitution and all the amendments, not just the second , but those other pesky ones, too. Freedom of Speech was kind of an important one to guys like Madison, who had a hand in writing them. Governor Ron seems to think, he can exercise that right to free speech everyday, but no one else can. Here’s hoping Warren is returned to his elected position, as he should be.

    and dribble.

    • JD

      August 17, 2022 at 9:26 pm

      “How many Floridians will have to fall victim to the governor’s incompetence and neglect of duty”

      As of right now 78,845 (Covid Deaths)

      • Jerry

        August 17, 2022 at 11:59 pm

        No one is forcing you to stay, bro. If you think you will be safer in a far-left blue state where the governor glues a diaper to your mouth and forces you to take experimental injections….go live there. You will be happier. We aren’t doing that in Florida. Either deal with it, or get the hell out.

        • Tom

          August 18, 2022 at 5:32 am

          JD, Fauci and Biden killed more with Covid! Over a million together. It’s fact. DeSantis saved Florida. Known fact. Best economy, most seniors inoculated. Schools, kids, parents and lives saved. Jobs, 2.8% unemployment.

          • Joe Corsin

            August 18, 2022 at 7:34 am

            ^ Needs inoculation for the Trump virus via 44 Magnum revolver. Been conned, duped, and deluded…now still part of the crime cult.

          • JD

            August 18, 2022 at 8:25 am


            The nation’s unemployment is low all around. Where’s that Biden recession? We there yet? 2 Quarters of negative GDP isn’t quite jiving.

            But back to the point of Fauci and Biden – show me one of their policies that contributed to that million or one that wasn’t meant to help stop the spread of the disease?

            Show me one of the governor or our surgeon general’s policies that did help? Other than the seniors first vaccine and the Monocollonial Centers? Which the monocollonial were the antithesis of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. The anti-mask mandate was biggest pandering and it cost some of those lives and that was a policy.

            It was a trade-off of public health vs economy, and the later was for political currency. While I understand that’s a rock and a hard place, to showboat around it is grotesque.

        • JD

          August 18, 2022 at 8:13 am

          I doubt I am your “Bro”

          And you can get the hell out with that attitude. Florida was just fine when it was a purple state but it still sucked on industry, wages, and economic growth prior to the pandemic.

          And I’ve been here most of my life. It’s my state just as much as it is yours.

          How about you deal with the backlash on the GOP or get the hell out?

          The democrats got too comfortable and didn’t watch how the GOP was purging the voter rolls and other shenanigans. That’s the only reason why they have a 250K advantage on the rolls. There’s still 3.8M independents and NPA’s they have to woo.

  • Jerry

    August 17, 2022 at 11:53 pm

    Democrats have for years claimed that the freedom of speech doesn’t apply to things you say online or whether you can keep your job. People have been banned on social media because they dare question COVID or vaccine mandates. Countless people have been fired for not being woke enough.

    Mr. Warren is not being arrested. He’s not being prosecuted. He’s being fired. Something liberals have been doing to conservatives for years for not having the politically correct opinion.

    Funny it takes a far-left, Soros-backed liberal being fired before you Democrats start promoting freedom of speech. A conservative gets fired and you cheer.

    • Joe Corsin

      August 18, 2022 at 7:39 am

      Well so called conservatives can always start their own businesses and can cough on each other, spew false information, hate speech and other total nonsense., religious nuttery and fantasy, behave like barn yard animals and no one will care. You have that freedom

    • JD

      August 18, 2022 at 8:29 am

      Can you connect the “Soros” backing to Warren?

      Is one of his campaign contributions (public record) be traced to Soros or one of is PACs?

      And why is Soros bad is the bigger question? Or any worse than Koch backed conservatives?

Comments are closed.


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