Suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren won’t get his job back, at least for now.
Federal Northeast Florida District Judge Robert Hinkle on Monday rejected a request from Warren to reinstate him as State Attorney and overturn Gov. Ron DeSantis’ move to suspend him from office over a pledge he made not to prosecute abortion-related crimes. Warren later filed suit, contending the action violated his First Amendment rights.
Before issuing his ruling, Hinkle was careful to note he was only ruling on the preliminary injunction request, not on the merits of the underlying case. During the hearing he also expressed concern about “yo-yo-ing” the office. That could happen if Hinkle were to reinstate Warren, then DeSantis appeals and the Governor’s chosen replacement, Susan Lopez, is put back in for a time.
“It’s disruptive (to the State Attorney’s office) to keep changing in and changing out,” Hinkle said. “It’d be better if this case gets resolved once and for all.”
With that in mind, he encouraged both sides to agree to a trial as soon as possible. Solicitor General Henry Whitaker, who defended DeSantis’ actions in court, said he’d need some time to determine when a trial could start, but said it might be at least three months. Warren’s attorneys said they could go to trial as soon as Oct. 24.
Despite the ruling, Hinkle closely questioned Whitaker as to whether DeSantis’ suspension of Warren over his signing of pledges not to prosecute abortion-related offenses in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade this summer and another pledging not to prosecute if the Legislature were to outlaw health care procedures helping transgender minors transition.
Whitaker argued the statements reflect a “neglect of duty” and “incompetence” by Warren, two reasons that a Governor can suspend a local elected official under the state constitution. He also argued Warren’s statements amount to a declaration that he “wouldn’t do his job,” and thus aren’t protected by the First Amendment because DeSantis’ has a duty to ensure laws are enforced.
Hinkle, though, disputed the extent to which Warren’s statements are protected speech.
“If you say ‘everyone agrees’ any statement of policy by a State Attorney isn’t protected by the First Amendment you need to exclude me from that,” Hinkle told Whitaker.
Hinkle also noted several times that Warren was an elected official, not a mere “employee” of the government, as Whitaker asserted.
Whitaker argued that while Warren has a First Amendment right, that right has limits when it comes to statements made in his capacity as a State Attorney.
“What he doesn’t have a right to do is say, ‘I’m a law unto myself and I can’t be disciplined for that,’” Whitaker said. “When a State Attorney speaks that State Attorney speaks for the State of Florida,” he added later.
But Warren, who has been elected and re-elected in Hillsborough County, argues that he answers to his constituents, not the Governor.
Attorneys for DeSantis and the state had previously requested Hinkle dismiss the case. However, Hinkle, the Senior Judge of the federal Northern District of Florida, allowed the case to proceed.
“Mr. Warren had no First Amendment right, as a public official, to declare that he would not perform his duties under Florida law,” Whitaker wrote in the 39-page filing for DeSantis earlier this month.
Judge Hinkle denies motion for preliminary injunction to reinstate Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, who was suspended by @GovRonDeSantis . But the judge grilled Desantis’ lawyers and didn’t seem convinced of their case. Wants trial soon.
— Gray Rohrer (@GrayRohrer) September 19, 2022
Renzo Downey and Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics contributed to this report.
September 19, 2022 at 11:45 am
This should not be before a fed judge to begin with. The Florida const is clear. The appeals ct will not allow this to advance if judge grants plaintiff.
Judge Hinkle should get out from this.
As for his questioning, he’s looking for reasons to validate his denial.
Warren is a disgrace.
Wah, Wah you Soros Manchurians.
September 19, 2022 at 12:43 pm
Fascist, pudgy Ronny D isn’t queen, and can’t remove elected officials because they make him angry, weak little tommy.
Why do you think it’s okay for fascist, whiny, Ronny D to maintain his own “election police force” that only answers to him? Know who else had one of those? Hitler, you cultist wankstain.
September 19, 2022 at 3:25 pm
And yet Ronny D did remove Warren, and Warren will NEVER get his job back.
It must burn so badly.
September 19, 2022 at 5:35 pm
Ummm not only can he,he did! Free speech means he can say he disagreed with the law.
Refusal to obey his oath and uphold the law is grounds for removal.
September 19, 2022 at 3:24 pm
Exactly. If Warren had even a sliver of a free speech claim here, Hinkle would have reinstated him as fast as possible.
Even the activist Hinkle knows better and he’s just stalling as long as possible.
The federal suit is going to get tossed on appeal quite soon, and the state case is hopeless for Warren given the facts and the makeup of the court.
It’s over. There will be no trial. And Democrats once again will have to follow the law – or at least pretend to do so.
September 19, 2022 at 12:56 pm
Kiss my ass degenerate fake jay alias, Joey corsin.
Florida Const is the case, as Gov is empowered by const, not statute. Your ignorance is overwhelming.
Judge would be wise to end this ASAP. Appeals ct will not agree with him, if he grants injunction.
Warren can go get Soros sandwiches.
You morons are a joke. Wah!
September 19, 2022 at 3:53 pm
👆I think this person is actually 7 years old…
September 19, 2022 at 5:09 pm
As I said you degenerate Charlie corsin, complete scum bag. Go F yourself.
Warren got his ass kicked, as I do to you regularly.
You are unable to comprehend anything, nor acknowledge that you are full of manure. Everyone else does. LMAO.
September 24, 2022 at 3:16 pm
You swore an oath to do a job, then signed a commitment to ignore your sworn oath.
… take a walk liberal loser… case closed
September 24, 2022 at 9:12 pm
I see there’s lots of ignorant trolls commenting.
DeSantis is an Authoritarian pos.
He has no right to remove an elected official. He’s a want to be dictator! The ignorant FloriDuh people will vote for him bc they always vote against themselves!
Comments are closed.