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Florida's DeSantis suspends state attorney who pledged not to enforce abortion bans

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has suspended a state attorney from the Tampa area for, quote, "picking and choosing" which laws to enforce. He cited the top prosecutor's recent pledge not to enforce abortion bans. Stephanie Colombini from member station WUSF reports.

STEPHANIE COLOMBINI, BYLINE: The Hillsborough County state attorney, Andrew Warren, was one of dozens of prosecutors around the country who signed a letter vowing not to press charges against people who seek or provide abortions. He's called Florida's 15-week ban arbitrary and unconstitutional. The Democratic state attorney also pledged not to prosecute people who violate potential restrictions on health care for transgender youth. Speaking at the county sheriff's office, DeSantis says he has authority as governor to remove officers who neglect their duty and argues that's what Warren's doing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RON DESANTIS: So today we are suspending state attorney Andrew Warren effective immediately.

COLOMBINI: Current and former law enforcement officials joined DeSantis at the podium to express their frustrations with Warren and other prosecutors around the country they say undermine public safety. DeSantis cited states like New York and California as examples.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DESANTIS: We are not going to allow this pathogen that's been around the country of ignoring the law. We are not going to let that get a foothold here in the state of Florida. We are going to make sure that our laws are enforced and that no individual prosecutor puts himself above the law.

COLOMBINI: Warren released a statement calling his suspension, quote, "an illegal overreach that continues a dangerous pattern by Ron DeSantis of using his office to further his own political ambition." DeSantis is considered by many to be a top choice as the next Republican presidential candidate. Warren also said the governor's action spits in the face of Hillsborough voters who elected him as state attorney in 2016 and reelected him in 2020. DeSantis countered he didn't think those voters wanted what he calls a woke agenda. For NPR News, I'm Stephanie Colombini in Tampa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Stephanie Colombini joined WUSF Public Media in December 2016 as Producer of Florida Matters, WUSF’s public affairs show. She’s also a reporter for WUSF’s Health News Florida project.

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