Andrew Warren, who won his election to the office of Florida state prosecutor and was yanked out of it by Governor Ron DeSantis after he (and other prosecutors around the nation) agreed that it would be inappropriate to charge women with a criminal offense for seeking an abortion, has had his case heard by an appeals court, alleging that his free speech rights were violated.
Warren argues that DeSantis abused his political power to mete out punishment for having a dissenting opinion, and he’s not the only one making that complaint.
Disney has sued DeSantis for the near-identical allegation: that he’s using legislation to attack the company because it sided with LGBTQ students and families when he passed his Don’t Say Gay law.
Disney is pursuing DeSantis hard, and the company’s very effective legal team is almost as legendary as its characters.
As a bonus, the Florida Governor has not been even a bit reticent about his motives, stating clearly multiple times that his attacks on the company are over its failure to adhere to his values, and the company is citing repeated admissions in his memoir as evidence. One example in their complaint:
“Governor DeSantis’s memoir attacked Disney’s speech and petitioning activity for expressing the wrong viewpoint. ‘In promising to work to repeal the bill,’ he asserted, “the company was pledging a frontal assault on a duly enacted law of the State of Florida.” As a consequence of its disfavored speech and petitioning, he declared, ‘[t]hings got worse for Disney.’”
As for Warren, the appeals court heard his case Tuesday afternoon, and has not received a verdict.
A lower court rejected his arguments in January, saying that, while DeSantis clearly violated both the U.S. and the Florida constitutions, the judiciary does not have the power to overrule the Governor and restore Warren to the office for which the people of Florida elected him.
Tuesday’s hearing attempted to sort out the line between “conduct,” which DeSantis’s team claims was the reason for Warren’s ouster, and “speech,” which Warren asserts was the real reason.
Judges queried whether his joining a statement opposing prosecution for women seeking abortions, or professionals providing that care, was equivalent to a “blanket non-prosecution agreement,” and if so, whether that falls under the umbrella of conduct rather than free expression, according to the Associated Press.