A federal appeals court panel Wednesday ordered a district court judge in Florida to reweigh his ruling against Andrew Warren, an elected Democrat state prosecutor suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis over his policies on crime and positions on abortion and transgender youth.

The governor and GOP presidential candidate suspended Warren in August 2022 after the prosecutor signed statements that he would not enforce bans on transgender care for minors and abortion.

However, Wednesday, a three-judge panel from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that some of Warren’s activities were protected by the First Amendment, The Hill reported.

The ruling comes two days after Warren announced on Facebook that he is not seeking reelection.

“We conclude that the district court erred in two ways: first, in concluding that the First Amendment did not protect Warren’s support of a sentence in the advocacy statement about prosecuting abortion cases, and second, in concluding that the First Amendment did not preclude DeSantis from suspending Warren to gain political benefit from bringing down a reform prosecutor,” Circuit Judge Jill Pryor wrote for the court.

“We therefore remand for the district court to reconsider whether DeSantis would have made the same decision based solely on Warren’s performance and the two office policies,” Pryor, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, also wrote. 

DeSantis press secretary Jeremy Redfern said in a statement that the court, which also has two Republican-appointed judges, was “flat wrong” in its conclusion on Warren.

“A state prosecutor’s declared commitment to not enforce the laws of this state is not protected by the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “It’s disappointing that a federal appellate court would excuse such a blatant violation of that prosecutor’s oath to defend Florida law.”

But Circuit Judge Kevin Newsom, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, wrote in a separate opinion that Warren’s support on the abortion issue constitutes protected speech, “whatever one thinks” of his opinion.

“The First Amendment is an inconvenient thing. It protects expression that some find wrongheaded, or offensive, or even ridiculous,” Newsom said. “But for the same reason that the government can’t muzzle so-called ‘conservative’ speech under the guise of preventing on-campus ‘harassment’ … the state can’t exercise its coercive power to censor so-called ‘woke’ speech with which it disagrees. What’s good for mine is (whether I like it or not) good for thine.”

Sandy Fitzgerald | editorial.fitzgerald@newsmax.com

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 


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