A federal judge found DeSantis violated the Florida Constitution, but dismissed the case


Florida Gov. A federal judge ruled Friday that Ron DeSantis violated the state constitution when he suspended the elected, progressive-minded attorney general, but ultimately concluded that the law allows for the decision to fire him.

US District Judge Robert L. Hinkle found that DeSantis (R) Andrew Warren violated the First Amendment by considering public opinion on controversial topics. Abortion and transgender care as “motivating factors” in the decision to suspend him.

But neither presented a reason to reinstate Warren, giving DeSantis a legal victory.

DeSantis communications director Taryn Fenske called it “a win for the governor and a win for the people of Florida.” Nonetheless, Hinkle’s 59-page order finds fault with the actions of DeSantis and his staff and the case and facts they brought to trial.

“The record contains no indication of Mr. Warren’s misconduct,” Hinkle wrote. “As far as this record reflects, he diligently and competently performed the work he was elected to do, the way he told the voters he would do it … that Mr. Warren was dereliction of duty or incompetent. False.”

Although Hinkle found no wrongdoing on Warren’s part, he concluded that it was a matter of state.

DeSantis’ decision to suspend the two-term attorney general in August This appalled many who saw it as an overreach by the governor. One of Warren’s attorneys called it a “political hit job.”

The popular Florida governor — who is running for re-election in November and is widely considered a 2024 presidential candidate — justified the suspension by saying Warren had no right to “refuse to enforce Florida law.”

A Tampa-area attorney said he was being punished for exercising his right to free speech. At the beginning of the year, he Signed Two pledges written by Fair and Just Prosecution, an advocacy organization for reform-minded prosecutors. In an affidavit, prosecutors pledged not to “criminalize reproductive health decisions.” Second Report Similar assurances were given to transgender welfare seekers.

Warren, who was the first witness in a five-day non-jury trial in Tallahassee in late November, said the issue was beyond him.

“As I’ve said from the beginning, there’s more at stake than my job,” Warren said at a news conference the morning the trial began. “We’re not fighting to do the job I was elected to do, I’m fighting for the rights of voters across Florida to have the elected officials of their choice.”

In her testimony at trial, Warren said the pledges she signed were never implemented or adopted as official policy. Two assistant state attorneys in Warren’s office backed that assertion, testifying that they did not consider the statements to be a reflection of actual policy. But Warren’s chief of staff said he thought the pledge to uphold abortion rights amounted to a policy directive.

In announcing the suspension, DeSantis also pointed to Warren’s decision not to prosecute 67 protesters arrested for unlawful assembly during protests against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020.

After DeSantis signed into law restrictions on a voter-approved constitutional amendment allowing them to register to vote, Warren was instrumental in helping formerly incarcerated people regain their voting rights. The attorney general also created an Office of Conviction Review to investigate claims of innocence.

DeSantis blasted the actions of a “woke” lawyer.

The raid provided a rare look inside the inner workings of DeSantis and his staff. Sources and public records show the governor’s office was excited about the “totally free earned media” that resulted from the news conference announcing his suspension. Careful staff tables estimated that the governor, who was running for re-election at the time, earned $2.4 million worth of media coverage.

While DeSantis said he asked his staff for reports of any attorneys perceived to be “taking the law into their own hands,” testimony showed the focus was on Warren from the beginning.

Larry Keefe, a former U.S. attorney in Florida, called DeSantis the state’s “security czar,” testifying that he consulted with some Republican state attorneys and sheriffs and the Tampa-area GOP. DonorsBut no detailed investigation was conducted.

During the trial, Warren’s attorneys he asked What do members of DeSantis’ staff mean when the governor calls people “woke”?

“To me, someone who believes there are systemic injustices in the criminal justice system, on that basis they can refuse to fully enforce and uphold the law,” said DeSantis’ general counsel Ryan Newman.

“It would be a belief that there are systemic injustices in American society and that there is a need to address them,” Newman added.

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