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Appeals Court Says DeSantis Must Face Dismissed Prosecutor's Suit

A U.S. appeals court ruled that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis must face a retaliation lawsuit by a state prosecutor who says he was unlawfully fired over statements he signed in support of transgender care and abortion rights. The ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revives the lawsuit by former Tampa prosecutor Andrew Warren against DeSantis, who is running for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, reports Reuters. A federal judge missed the case last January, ruling that the courts had no power to reinstate Warren, a Democrat who won reelection in 2020, even though DeSantis' action violated state and federal law.

The appeals court overturned the decision, finding that Warren's statements did not affect his office's work and amounted to protected speech under the U.S. Constitution. "The First Amendment prevents DeSantis from identifying a reform prosecutor and then suspending him to garner political benefit," it said. DeSantis' spokesperson called the ruling "flat wrong" and said it was "an egregious encroachment on state sovereignty."

Warren praised the appeals court order and said it gave the trial judge the power to reinstate him. Warren had announced he would not run again, saying DeSantis "could suspend me again for whatever bogus reason he wanted." DeSantis had maintained he suspended Warren for "neglect of duty" after Warren and other prosecutors signed a statement supporting abortion rights. DeSantis in August suspended a Democratic state prosecutor, Monique Worrell of Florida's Orange and Osceola counties, accusing her of being soft on crime.


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