When a suspended Florida prosecutor goes to court this week to try to get his job back, there’s going to be one key witness the court won’t be hearing from.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, the governor who suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren in the first place, will not be required to testify under a judge’s ruling last week, according to WLRN-TV, a PBS station in Miami.
And that’s just as well. The oh-so-woke Warren has already said more than enough by himself to explain why he has no business being in the prosecution business.
In the Wednesday ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle granted a motion by DeSantis attorneys who argued in a Nov. 19 court brief that forcing the governor to testify would violate the separation of powers between the executive branch and the judiciary, according to the Law & Crime website.
The ruling was a score not just for DeSantis, but for the American system of government. (It’s a system Warren should already be familiar with, considering he was elected to the state attorney’s job in Hillsborough County, twice, before DeSantis suspended him.)
Warren’s attorneys said last week they weren’t expecting to call DeSantis to testify in person, according to Politico. But Warren was singing a very different tune on Facebook in September.
“A federal judge ruled today that Gov. DeSantis has to come into court to explain the reasons why he suspended me,” Warren said in a video posted to Facebook on Sept. 19. “To show that it wasn’t political. And to show that it wasn’t a violation of my First Amendment rights and the rights of the voters of Hillsborough County to have the state attorney of their choice.
“We look forward to Gov. DeSantis having to come into a court of law, where facts matter, to try to justify his decision.”
Yeah, well, that’s not likely to happen now.
“As things now stand, the governor’s not going to be testifying,” Hinkle said Wednesday, according to WLRN. “And I guess I should tell both sides I think it’s very unlikely that the situation would change.”
But here’s the thing: Everything important has already been said — and by the guy who’s bringing this lawsuit. As DeSantis pointed out when he suspended Warren, the so-called prosecutor had already made the reasons for the move public all by himself.
Warren — a Democrat, if you had to ask — was the only Florida prosecutor who signed onto a June statement with prosecutors from around the country pledging not to enforce state laws they disagreed with. The statement, issued in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, was specifically aimed at laws criminalizing the procedure, but was actually an assault on the entire American system of government.
Legislatures pass laws. Governors sign laws (like the Florida law DeSantis signed in April banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy).
Executive branches overseen by governors administer laws. If laws are broken, executive branches, through the state and federal justice systems — including state’s attorneys — prosecute violations of those laws. Prosecutors like Warren, who claim a right to pick and choose what laws their offices will enforce, are overturning one of the key elements of making the American system work.
When Warren signed that statement in June, he was declaring that, in Florida’s 13th Judicial District, he would consider himself and his office to be the final authority on laws in the state of Florida. No governor — in any state or from any political party — can accept that kind of blatant defiance of the constitutional system.
“The Constitution of Florida has vested the veto in the governor, not in individual state attorneys,” DeSantis said in announcing Warren’s suspension at an Aug. 4 news conference. “When you flagrantly violate your oath of office, when you make yourself above the law, you have violated your duty.”
There’s really nothing more that needs to be said on this point. Warren used a national platform to announce his position that he had the authority to essentially nullify acts passed by the Florida legislature and signed into law by the governor. He announced that he had every intention of doing so.
His rationale for that decision is irrelevant.
If there is any justice, it won’t take Hinkle anywhere near that long to decide it. As Warren put it when he was trying to sound tough in that September video, in a court of law, facts matter. And the facts of this case are clear.
DeSantis doesn’t need to take a witness stand to explain his action.
Warren has already said more than enough to explain it himself.
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