TAMPA, Fla. — Suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren's attorneys filed a reply in federal court Friday, which now continues his legal challenge against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The reply addresses arguments made by DeSantis' lawyers along with requests made last week to dismiss Warren's lawsuit, a news release explains.
“As I’ve said from the beginning, there is so much more at stake here than my job,” Warren, former state attorney for Tampa/Hillsborough County, said in a video posted Friday. “This is about making sure that the people choose their elected officials. It’s about making sure that the governor doesn’t just get to throw out people’s votes because he doesn’t like the outcome of an election.”
Warren's caption on the tweet said they're filing their reply brief to continue the fight against DeSantis' "abuse of power."
"We're fighting for the people--to make sure elections still matter," the caption read. "We didn't pick this fight but are proud to be on the side of democracy & the rule of law. 10 days until court hearing. Stay tuned."
Warren's reply reportedly stands on two arguments made with his lawsuit filed on Aug. 17:
- DeSantis violated Warren’s First Amendment right to free speech
- The governor overstepped his authority in suspending Warren on Aug. 4.
Some of the arguments made in Warren's response include, "DeSantis cannot justify retaliating against Warren for Warren’s speech because Warren is not his employee," "[C]ourts, not the governor, define the standards for suspension under the Florida Constitution" and "Nor can DeSantis avoid answering in court for his illegal actions by hiding beneath the cloak of sovereign immunity because Florida—not DeSantis—is the sovereign."
“In suspending Warren, DeSantis violated the First Amendment and the Florida Constitution, and Warren is entitled to an injunction to remedy these violations. In his brief, DeSantis fails to establish otherwise," Warren’s attorneys write in the reply brief. "Instead, he demonstrates that he misunderstands not only the office to which he was elected, but also the office to which Warren was twice elected.”
Oral arguments are set for Monday, Sept. 19 before Judge Robert Hinkle at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee.
DeSantis issued a response last week to the lawsuit filed by Warren.
In the response, DeSantis argues he has the right to take Warren out of the job based on the "broad authorities to oversee the State's executive branch."
The governor initially announced the suspension of State Attorney Andrew Warren on Aug. 4 due to what he described as a "neglect of duty."
According to an order released by the governor's office, Warren "demonstrated his incompetence and willful defiance of his duty" starting at least in 2021. DeSantis' order cited article four, section seven of the Florida Constitution in allowing him to suspend Warren.
The order cites joint statements Warren issued on topics including transition-related health care for transgender youth, abortion rights and his instituting policies against prosecuting certain "criminal violations" as reasons for his suspension.