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DeSantis suspends elected Florida county prosecutor who stated he would not charge people seeking abortions

Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a self-avowed conservative who has stated his belief that the most effective government is the one closest to the people being governed, has suspended an elected county prosecutor who stated he would not charge people seeking abortions, the New York Times reports.

Hillsborough County State’s Attorney Andrew H. Warren signed a statement along with more than 90 other local prosecutors from around the nation that they would not criminalize patients seeking an abortion.  Florida enacted a law banning abortions after 15 weeks of gestation following the Supreme Court’s controversial and legally-questionable revocation of the right to an abortion granted through the Roe precedent.

Warren, who won his seat with 53% of the local vote in 2020 versus DeSantis’s 49.6% statewide victory in 2018, had stated that he would enforce other laws relating to illegal abortions while courts heard arguments about the legality of Florida’s law.

DeSantis also cited a policy of Warren’s office to not prosecute non-violent suspects on foot or on a bike who were confronted by police for an allegedly non-violent, non-criminal offense, like jaywalking or biking on the sidewalk.  Such encounters have been criticized by civil rights groups as a predicate for police to harass and abuse individuals, particularly targeting minorities.

Calling Warren’s policy decisions “incompetence and willful defiance of his duties,” DeSantis’s actions have raised concerns that the governor is taking an authoritarian turn and undermining the will of the local populace who elected officials DeSantis doesn’t like or agree with, perhaps an effort to purge local positions of people who don’t agree with his political agenda and those who could oversee 2024 elections.  Warren was also a rising figure in Florida politics, having been elected to the high profile position in Florida’s fourth largest county.

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