HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — As Gov. Ron DeSantis kicks off his presidential campaign, he has some lawsuits in Florida that could be "loose ends" as he tries to focus on the campaign trail.
The governor is currently looking at legal action that includes his battle with Disney over Reedy Creek, while also juggling his ongoing litigation with suspended state attorney Andrew Warren.
Warren and the governor have been in a nearly yearlong legal battle over his job after Warren said he wouldn’t prosecute abortion cases or transgender health care issues. The governor suspended Warren, an elected official, for "neglect of duty."
“If the governor can just remove someone in violation of state law and federal law, then what’s the point of having elections anymore,” Warren said. “It’s killing our democracy.”
A judge already ruled that DeSantis violated the state constitution but, said his court didn’t have the authority to reinstate Warren to his job. Legal expert Jeff Swartz of WMU Cooley Law School says Warren could have made a good argument, but he did it in the wrong court.
“The governor saying, ‘I don’t like him, I think he’s going to do bad things so I’m going to get rid of him now,’ is not due process,” Swartz said. “That’s the best argument he could have made, and I think he made it to the federal district court, but that’s not where he should have made it. He should have made it to the state court.
Now, the case is in a federal appeals court, and Swartz says it’s tough to tell how this will shake out.
He says that the court is generally conservative, but says they “have not been particularly friendly to DeSantis” in other cases.
Swartz says he thinks Warren could have used this battle as an opportunity to file, not only his lawsuit, but to file lawsuits for others in the state who have been in disputes with the governor.
It's a strategy he says might have had an impact on the governor’s recent presidential bid.
“If he’s under attack in Florida, he cannot afford to lose in Florida,” Swartz said. “He has to spend time defending himself in Florida.”
Swartz says, there’s no way to tell how long it will take to get a decision, and that it could come down tomorrow, or months from now.
It’s a ruling that Warren says will impact free speech in the state of Florida.
“Do those freedoms exist, or do they only exist as long as the governor is okay with it?” he asked.
We reached out to the Governor’s office for comment on the case, and are still waiting to hear back.