Florida Constitution Gives DeSantis Authority to Suspend Elected Officials, Contrary to ‘Soros-Backed’ Andrew Warren’s Claim

By Eric Daugherty, Florida's Voice

August 8, 2022 Updated 11:09 AM ET

Governor Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at the 2022 Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida (Gage Skidmore).
Governor Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at the 2022 Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida (Gage Skidmore).

August 8, 2022 Updated 9:04 A.M. ET

TAMPA (FLV) – After Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended ‘Soros-backed’ State Attorney Andrew Warren, who vowed to not enforce potential prohibitions on child sex changes or restrictions on abortion, claims spread that the Florida governor does not have the authority to suspend elected officials.

Warren, like other state attorneys in Florida, gain their position via a district-wide election, which Warren of the 13th Judicial Circuit said was evidence that DeSantis’ move is “blatantly unconstitutional.”

“He is stepping on the rights of voters of Hillsborough county. This is blatantly unconstitutional and in violation of Florida statute. He doesn’t have the authority to suspend me just because he wants to, especially when he’s focused on things that I haven’t even done yet,” Warren said on CBS News.

“He’s living in his own world,” he continued.

Richard A. Harrison, a practicing lawyer in local government law, government liability, government relations, public officials liability, and complex litigation, disagreed with Warren.

“Look at his constitutional role again. Note that it does not include the power to legislate. State Attorneys are prosecutors, not legislators. What a state attorney thinks the law should (or should not) be is utterly irrelevant. There is no veto power in a state attorney,” Harrison said.

“The Florida Constitution expressly gives @GovRonDeSantis the right to remove local elected officials. Fla. Const. art. 4, §7(a),” he said.

The state Constitution gives the governor the authority to, by Executive order “stating the grounds,”:

The governor may suspend from office any state officer not subject to impeachment, any officer of the militia not in the active service of the United States, or any county officer, for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony, and may fill the office by appointment for the period of suspension.

Fla. Const. art. 4, §7(a)

The state attorney is not subject to impeachment.

DeSantis primely cited “neglect of duty” at his press conference suspending the state attorney.

“Andrew Warren has put himself publicly above the law,” DeSantis explained. “He said it doesn’t matter what the state legislature does in Florida, he’s going to exercise a veto over that.”

“Yes, you can exercise discretion in an individual case, but that discretion has to be individualized and case specific. You can’t just say that you’re not going to do a certain offense,” he said. “State Attorneys have a duty to prosecute crimes as defined in Florida law, not to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on his personal agenda.”

In the official executive order, the governor cited “neglect of duty” and “incompetence” as reasons for suspension.

“A state attorney who contends that prosecutorial discretion may be used to disregard entire criminal laws demonstrates incompetence and gross ignorance of a state attorney’s official duty to exercise discretion only on a ‘case-by-case’ and ‘individualized’ basis,” it reads.

DeSantis said that Warren had a policy of “presumption of non-prosecution” in crimes such as “misdemeanor resisting arrest without violence.”

“Such policies have the effect of usurping the province of the Florida Legislature to define criminal conduct as well as the duties of other law enforcement officials in Hillsborough County to faithfully enforce violations of Florida criminal law,” it says.

The order goes on to cite a ‘joint statement’ signed by Warren vowing to not enforce sex change restrictions. For eight pages, DeSantis lists off reasons, justifications, and facts in support of suspending Warren.

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