(Updates with comment from Warren in the fourth paragraph.)
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Florida’s Republican governor on Thursday suspended a prosecutor without pay for saying he doesn’t intend to bring criminal cases for abortion.
Discretion may be used in individual cases, but “you can’t just say you’re not going to do certain offenses,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference in Tampa, Fla.
DeSantis’s order suspending prosecutor Andrew Warren cites “neglect of duty” and “incompetence.” It doesn’t list an end date for the suspension.
Warren called the suspension a “political stunt” in a statement posted to his Twitter account.
“It spits in the face of the voters of Hillsborough County who have twice elected me to serve *them*, not Ron DeSantis,” he said.
It’s the latest in a series of conflicts between the people who make state law and those who decide when to take someone to court for violating the law.
Earlier this week, a Michigan court granted Attorney General Dana Nessel’s request for an emergency order blocking 13 Republican county prosecutors from pursuing cases against doctors who perform abortions.
Enforcement of abortion law also is an issue in Thursday’s election for prosecutor in Tennessee’s most populous county.
Incumbent Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich (R) hasn’t said whether she would prosecute doctors who perform abortions, the Associated Press reported. Challenger Steve Mulroy (D) has said such prosecutions would be an “extremely low priority” if he’s elected.
In the Florida clash, DeSantis’s executive order focused on Warren and other prosecutors signing statements that they won’t use their offices to pursue criminal cases involving abortion or gender transition treatments.
Florida’s new state law bans abortions after 15 weeks, with some exceptions. Violators could face up to five years in prison. Physicians and other medical professionals could lose their licenses and face administrative fines of $10,000 for each violation.
Though the state doesn’t have a criminal law on gender transition surgery, “these statements prove that Warren thinks he has the authority to defy the Florida Legislature and nullify in his jurisdiction criminal laws with which he disagrees,” the executive order reads. The state does have a law against transgender athletes on female sports teams.
Warren, a Democrat, was first elected state attorney for Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit in 2016.
Democrats in the Florida Legislature said DeSantis’s order was an overreach of power against an elected official who disagreed with the governor.
With assistance from Alex Ebert
To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Kay in Miami at firstname.lastname@example.org