Joe Henderson: As Andrew Warren’s case drags on, we’ve seen this movie before
Ron DeSantis, Andrew Warren. Image via AP.

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Andrew Warren's bid to get his job back as Hillsborough State Attorney hits a roadblock.

The decision by Federal District Judge Robert Hinkle on Monday to deny Andrew Warren’s request for immediate reinstatement as Hillsborough County’s State Attorney is logical.

Had he immediately reinstated Warren, Hinkle correctly ruled it could start “yo-yo-ing” the office. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who suspended Warren for saying he wouldn’t prosecute abortion cases, immediately would have appealed.

If the Governor won, then Susan Lopez — who replaced Warren — would go back in the office, and, well, it would have been an unholy mess.

It’s better to have a trial on the legality of DeSantis’ muzzle move and get a ruling.

Consider this, though.

Warren might get back in office even if he loses the case.

He could run again in 2024, and I’d lay good odds that he would. Hillsborough is a blue county, with about 54,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans. Voters already elected Warren twice, and it would not be a surprise if they did it again.

If that happened and DeSantis was the Governor, would he preemptively suspend Warren again?

Yes, that’s getting ahead of things. Besides, I doubt DeSantis would even care at that point because he already got what he wanted out of this bizarre episode. With an eye on re-election now and a possible White House bid in 2024, DeSantis wanted to look tough on crime and pander to the anti-abortion crowd.

Suspending Warren accomplished both goals, and the Governor wins with that group no matter the outcome.

If Warren ultimately prevails with his argument that the suspension is a First Amendment violation — which it might be — DeSantis could play the victim and rail about liberal judges. His base would be sympathetic.

Remember that Warren never faced an abortion case under Florida’s new 15-week law. Saying he wouldn’t prosecute patients and doctors who violate that is not the same as actually refusing to do so. But when Warren made his stand, it gave the politically ambitious DeSantis an opening to grab a headline.

Hinkle, the Senior Judge of the federal Northern District of Florida, seemed to lean toward Warren’s free-speech argument.

“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 Solicitor General Henry Whitaker, who represents the state’s case.

And when Whitaker argued that Warren was a government employee, Hinkle reminded him that Warren was an elected official.

Big difference.

So, we wait a while longer for a resolution to yet another one of the Governor’s tough-guy plays. This seems to be how it goes with many of DeSantis’ moves. He issues an order of dubious legality, owns the news cycle for a few days, and pounds his chest while the legal machinery grinds on.

We’ve seen this movie before. The characters change, but the plot remains the same.

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.


  • Juanita Mendoza

    September 19, 2022 at 7:51 pm

    DeSantis needs to be impeached and arrested…for the inhumane treatment of us on the way to Martha’s Vineyard. We were slapped, kicked, and forced to sign paperwork. One lady was raped for Christ sakes!

  • Tom

    September 19, 2022 at 9:34 pm

    Not enough apparently. You are pathetic corsin.

  • Tom

    September 19, 2022 at 9:58 pm


    Judge Hinkle would be wise to deny and wash hands from this. Warren is a partisan soros prosecutor. Can’t imagine court of appeals will accept this. You can’t scream fire in amovie theater. First amendment has limits.

    BTW, are you aware we have double digit inflation? 1.4% Jan, 21 to Sept, 22.
    Over 2.5 million illegals have invaded our country?
    Over 100,000 fentanyl deaths due to China/Mexican cartels and our abandonment of border. Real American kids suicides.
    FYI, over 750 deaths so far this year of illegals trying to cross Biden’s border. Harris says it secure.
    Are you aware Florida has 2.7% unemployment?
    Over 2 yrs of month on month exceeding job growth.
    7.8% wage growth?
    22 billion in state reserves.

    Did you watch the 60 mints? Interview yesterday? So sad.
    Do you realize the Congress and POTUS have spent 4.8 billion in 21 months? Inflation anyone?

    Do people of Florida matter to you? Or F. P.?

    How much dislike can you convey weekly at one person? My goodness. Amazing

  • I am what I am

    September 19, 2022 at 10:12 pm

    The judgement

  • ScienceBLVR

    September 20, 2022 at 7:22 am

    DeSantis’s “Muzzle Move” I love it. As educators, my colleagues and I feel our so called governor has been putting the “Muzzle Moves” on our profession since he came into office. Just another reason, teachers are leaving the classroom in droves- when you have to put the military in to replace them, you know it’s bad. I agree with Warren, legally, this is a first amendment case and again, another self-serving partisan decision by a governor who is only interested in making points to nationalize himself for a presidential run. Forget what Floridians want or need. If the electorate of Hillsborough want to recall Warren, let them do it! That would be the correct way to push him out if they feel he is incompetent or not following the law.

  • Tom

    September 20, 2022 at 8:14 am

    Such B.S. from you mis believer.
    No muzzling, stop the lies.
    Why don’t you deal with facts.
    I outlined truths above.

  • Joe Sprowls

    September 20, 2022 at 1:07 pm

    Your article is blatantly biased and any right you claim as a member of the press is thwarted by your obvious contempt for the Govenor. In this world today, just about every “movie” plot has been seen before, nonetheless the public watches. Even if the entire voting public in Hillsboro re-elects Warren, it is not granting him carte blanche to break the law or fail to enforce it. If that shouldn’t come to pass, the governor should provide a repeat performance.

Comments are closed.


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