DeSantis suspended a state attorney for being 'woke.' Here's what his lawyers think that means

DeSantis suspended a state attorney for being 'woke.' Here's what his lawyers think that means
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, speaks with members of Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., leadership during the governor's first visit to the base since becoming governor, Jan. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Solomon Cook)

Attorneys for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis desperately worked to convince a federal judge Thursday that their client, the governor of Florida, wasn’t acting out of malice and revenge when he suspended a twice-elected Democratic state attorney due to his support of both reproductive rights and the transgender community in Florida.

Andrew Warren, the suspended Hillsborough County state attorney, is suing to be reinstated after DeSantis’ continued attacks on his “woke” ideology. This wasn’t a secret agenda; in the announcement of Warren’s suspension, DeSantis accused him of being a “woke ideologue” who “masqueraded” as a prosecutor, according to Florida Politics. Warren’s legal team challenged DeSantis’ team to define the word “woke.

According to Florida Politics, DeSantis’ General Counsel, Ryan Newman, initially said, “To me, it means someone who believes that there are systemic injustices in the criminal justice system, and on that basis, they can decline to fully enforce and uphold the law.” But when pushed on what “woke” means in general, Newman said, “it would be the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.”

In August, Warren filed the federal lawsuit against DeSantis in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida, alleging that the anti-masking, book-banning brownshirt abused his power when he suspended Warren, alleging “neglect of duty.” The suit claims his First Amendment rights were violated after he signed a pledge refusing to criminally prosecute those who violate the state’s new 15-week abortion ban or hand sentences down to minors in need of gender-affirming care.

“I don't think the people of Hillsborough County want to have an agenda that is basically ‘woke,’ where you're deciding that your view of social justice means certain laws shouldn't be enforced," the governor said when he announced Warren’s suspension.

David B. Singer, an attorney representing Warren in the lawsuit, said, “No decision on any case ever considered by Warren while in office was impacted by these statements. … Statements of opinion on matters of the public debate do not relate to incompetence within the meaning of the Florida Constitution.”

Thursday, Newman told U.S. Judge Robert Hinkle that his client, DeSantis, doesn’t believe there are systemic injustices in America, and it's “wokeism” that is the primary reason for Warren’s suspension and his “fundamental misunderstanding” of his duties as a prosecutor.

Hinkle says it will be at least two weeks before he decides on the case.

Florida's HB 5 abortion restrictions went into effect on July 1 and do not allow for abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or human trafficking. The ban comes with a five-year prison sentence for violators; doctors who perform abortions could lose their licenses and be forced to pay a $10,000 fine.

On Aug. 10, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration put new rules into place banning health care providers from charging Medicaid for gender-affirming medical treatments for young people. The rule will go into effect on Aug. 21.

The bottom line is that being “woke” by DeSantis’ standards—and in the feeble minds of the MAGA GOP, for that matter—seems to be something terrible. On the contrary, if being woke means acknowledging an unequal system in this nation, then isn’t that the goal? When will we begin accepting that the foundation of this country and the nation built by its founders systemically weighs in favor of the colonizers and their descendants? And the truth is that no number of ways, bills, laws, or punishments Republicans put into place will change that.

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